News Corp. Will Wall Off London Times Sites Starting in June

New Test for Paid Content as Competing News Sites Remain Free

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NEW YORK ( -- Rupert Murdoch's London Times is about to show what a big consumer newspaper can -- or can't -- do when it builds a high online paywall even though its competition remains free.

The Times and the Sunday Times, which are published by Mr. Murdoch's News Corp., will begin charging for access starting this June, while competitors such as The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror remain free for all comers.

The Times and the Sunday Times had been expected to institute some sort of pay scheme this year. Mr. Murdoch has been arguing that newspapers cannot continue to give away their expensive content for free on the web and expect advertisers to foot the whole bill -- an increasingly popular argument once even online ad spending fell during the recession.

But the details confirmed today put a start date on the test of Mr. Murdoch's convictions. They also differ significantly from the plans underway at The New York Times, which will charge the site's heaviest users starting early next year. The meter approach, which has been employed by the Financial Times for years, is meant to preserve the bulk of a site's traffic and therefore the bulk of its ad revenue too.

The Times and the Sunday Times, in contrast, will charge £1 for one day's access to new sites they are building or £2 for one week's access. People who subscribe to the print edition seven days a week will receive online access free.

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