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New York Times Online Said to Be Less Than $20/Month

New York Times Co. will charge readers less than $20 a month for full access to its namesake newspaper on the Web when the company introduces its paid service, a person familiar with the matter said.

The price has been set at less than the $19.99 that customers pay for a New York Times subscription on Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle reader, said the person, who declined to be identified because the price hasn’t been made public yet. Last month, Scott Heekin-Canedy, president of the New York Times, said the price would be comparable to the Kindle subscription.

Times Co. and other newspaper publishers are trying to determine how much of their online content should remain free, how much can be moved behind a paywall, and how much to charge for access. The companies are seeking new revenue sources as print advertising and circulation revenue decline amid competition from Internet publications.

Newspapers that have “significant traffic to lose” on their websites must find a way to maintain the large numbers of visitors that advertisers covet, while at the same time turning their most devoted readers into paying customers online, said Greg Osberg, chief executive of Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. “What I’m convinced you cannot do is decide one day to just flip a switch and start charging for everything,” Osberg said in an interview.

Times Co., based in New York, rose 66 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $10.74 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, its biggest gain in more than two months. The stock declined 21 percent last year.

Some Free Content

Times Co. Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson has said the company plans to begin charging consumers for access to articles on its website during the first quarter.

Speaking at an investor conference in New York last month, Robinson said that users will be able to read a set number of articles for free each month, and heavy users will have to pay a subscription fee. At the time, Robinson didn’t say how many stories would be free or give a price for the subscription.

Subscribers to the New York Times’s print version will get full access to the online service with no extra charges, the person familiar with the matter said. A regular subscription to the print version, excluding any promotions or campaigns, is $11.70 a week, according to the company’s website. That equals to about $50 a month.

Eileen Murphy, a company spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Rival Efforts

Times Co. is following rival News Corp. into paid online editions. News Corp.’s Times of London newspaper put its online content behind a paywall in early July. The sites are available for one pound ($1.59) a day or two pounds per week. The Times iPad app costs 9.99 pounds a month.

The Times of London and The Sunday Times have more than 105,000 paying subscribers to the newspapers’ websites, iPad application and Kindle edition, News Corp.’s international unit disclosed in November. About half are monthly subscribers. Ad revenue was hurt when the newspapers’ websites lost more than 40 percent of their traffic in the first several months after the paywalls were implemented, according to data from Nielsen Co.

News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, which started a local New York City section last year to compete with the New York Times, charges new users $103 a year for full online access, according to its website. That’s equal to less than $9 a month. Existing Web customers were this month able to renew subscriptions at $155 a year, or about $13 a month.

Beginning this month, Philadelphia Media’s two newspapers will begin charging for access to their respective websites. Content on Philly.com, a website owned by Philadelphia Media, will remain free and function as the main portal to the newspapers. When a visitor clicks a tab inside Philly.com to access either of the company’s newspapers, the visitor will be required to pay.

Times Co. has also said that it will implement a similar model in Boston, where it owns the Boston.com website and the Boston Globe newspaper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Pulley in New York at bpulley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom in New York at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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