Dow Jones & Co.'s plan to begin charging online providers for the use of its industrial average has caused a backlash in the financial community.
Dow Jones faces resistance from financial service providers as well as from the Financial Information Forum, which is spearheading a protest against the plan on behalf of its members. FIF has written letters of complaint to the Securities & Exchange Commission and to Dow Jones.
SITES SAY COST IS `TOO HIGH'
Under a plan announced late last month, Dow Jones will begin charging its online clients $1 per end user per month for its real-time industrial average, and 25 cents per user per month for its 20-minute time-delayed service.
Dow Jones will renegotiate contracts with its approximately 50 licensees--including Reuters, Bloomberg and Automatic Data Processing--for the charge, scheduled to begin in April.
Dave Kansas, editor of TheStreet.com, said his publication is already paying an undisclosed fee for the time-delayed service, but that the proposed 25 cents per user is too high.
"We're happy to pay a reasonable price," Mr. Kansas said. "But if they are charging at the 25 cents per user kind of levels, then we'll become very big fans of the [competing] S&P 500" average.
With approximately 15,000 paying subscribers, TheStreet.com would pay roughly $3,750 a month under the new fee structure.
Brett Zickerman, new media director at Time's Money, said his company has not yet decided what to do about its use of the real-time average. It is scheduled to go live soon on the Money site, which offers both free and paid services.
"We're a large site and it could be a considerable amount of money," he said.
Dow Jones plans to charge the per user fee only to those services that can count actual users, such as users on Bloomberg terminals or users with a password to paid sites like TheStreet.com or Money.com Plus, Money's subscription service.
TAKING CONTROL OVER THE AVERAGE
However, free sites that use the average would be charged a negotiated flat fee, since it would be impossible to count actual users, said a Dow Jones spokeswoman.
Money.com attracts between 200,000 to 300,000 users weekly and would pay a yet-to-be determined flat fee. It would not disclose the number of its paid users
Dow Jones made its decision to start charging for the online average to help offset costs associated with maintaining the average. After noticing slight variations in the average from financial service providers using a formula to calculate the number, Dow Jones put a new system and more people in place to take control over the calculation process.
"Dow Jones is very serious about considering this proprietary information," said the Dow Jones spokeswoman. " It's more valuable to everyone when it's from one source."
Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.