Teenagers, Unemployed Won't Have to Get Up Early to Dodge Times Pay Wall

Meter Won't Start Running Until 2 P.M. March 28, After Peak Traffic Passes

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A teenager on 'Skins,' at risk for evading the Times pay meter, according to company Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
A teenager on 'Skins,' at risk for evading the Times pay meter, according to company Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Credit: MTV

Teenagers, the unemployed and ungrateful bloggers have been busily planning how they'll circumvent the New York Times pay wall ever since the Times promised that March 28 would mark the end of unlimited free access.

Happily for their other plan -- sleeping in -- they won't have to get up early on Monday to start their shenanigans. The Times isn't activating its pay meter on the website, which will require subscriptions from people who want to read more than 20 articles in a month, until 2 p.m. The meter will start running for Times apps later in the afternoon.

Will the world shift on its axis? No, but the risk would've been greater earlier in the day.

The Times didn't want to tax the new system more than necessary by firing it up for the first time during heavy reading earlier on Monday, a spokesman said. "This is being done in incremental stages so we don't overload the system during peak traffic periods," he said. "We want to make sure that our users have a seamless experience on NYTimes.com."

The pay scheme is actually so forgiving that the vast majority of visitors won't really run into it on Monday. It will take a while for many people to hit their 20-article limit, but even those who have can read further if they just arrive via a link from elsewhere on the web. Such arrivals from Google search are capped at five per day, but that's about the only restriction. All the same, the system will have to start watching you, so why start during peak activity?

You'll be able to evade the pay meter, Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said Wednesday, but most people won't. "Is it going to be done by the kind of people who value the quality of the New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis?" he said. "No. I don't think so. It'll be mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work."

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