MEDIA GENERAL TO CHARGE FOR NEWSPAPER WEB SITES

By: Joe Strupp

CEO Calls Free Access ‘Dumb’


Media General Inc. plans to begin charging subscription fees for
some of its newspaper Web sites by the end of the year, according
to President, Chairman, and CEO J. Stewart Bryan III, who called
free access to newspaper Web sites “dumb.”

“We’ve come to the conclusion that [paid online subscription] is
the model to follow,” Bryan told E&P. “We’ve got to stop
giving things away on the Web.”

Bryan said no specific plan for online fees had been established,
and declined to say if all of Media General’s daily papers would
institute subscriptions at the same time. But he said recent
company research had shown that readers were leaving print
newspapers for free Web products. “There is a direct relationship
between hits on the Web increasing and decline in paid
circulation,” Bryan said.

Media General owns 25 daily newspapers, including its hometown
Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, The Tampa (Fla.)
Tribune, and the Winston-Salem (N.C.)
Journal, as well as nearly 100 weeklies and 25 TV
stations.

Journal General Manager Pat Taylor said Web subscriptions
make sense. “Page views we get now are high, but there’s not a
lot of revenue attached to it,” Taylor said. “We are giving away
on the Web what we are trying to sell in print.”

Only a handful of newspapers charge for online subscriptions,
with The Wall Street Journal the lone major daily
requiring a fee.



Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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