‘Financial Times’ Web Site To Charge

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(AP) As expected, the Financial Times on Tuesday announced plans to charge users for access to its FT.com Web site.

Starting next month, users will have to buy a subscription to read some of the paper’s online content. Most articles will remain free, but viewers will have to pay 75 pounds ($110) a year to see some columns and industry news and all stories more than a week old.

A $300-per-year package will also offer subscribers access to a database of corporate information and an international news archive.

In an article Tuesday, the newspaper said the change was aimed at “enhancing the free part of the site while creating a specialized subscription service.” FT.com began operating in 1996.

Few newspapers have introduced charges for their Internet sites, despite declining advertising revenues.

An exception is The Wall Street Journal, which launched subscription-based WSJ.com in 1996. It charges $59 a year for a subscription, and says it has 640,000 subscribers.

The Financial Times‘ owner, Pearson PLC, has invested heavily in its Internet business. In 2001, FT.com’s losses accounted for half of the FT Group’s Internet losses of $85 million.

Zach Leonard, chief operating officer at FT.com, said the site, which claims 2.7 million users a month, expected to break even by the end of the year.

“The business model for online news and data used to be built around either advertising or subscription revenues. Our business model combines the best of both approaches,” he said.

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