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Gannett Considers Charging for Online News Content, Dubow Says

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March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Gannett Co., the owner of 82 newspapers including USA Today, is considering charging for its online content, Chief Executive Officer Craig Dubow said.

The company, which also owns television stations, is trying a paid-content model at three newspaper websites, and is likely to experiment more before making a decision about the broad use of paywalls, Dubow said in a telephone interview today.

“We’re going to see more of this until we can get exact a model as possible,” Dubow said. “We want to be able to do this and do it once.”

Gannett is among media companies searching for ways to create paying customers out of people who now access news for free on the Internet. The New York Times Co. will start charging readers for online access “very shortly,” Chairman and Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. said last week.

Gannett’s newspaper in Greenville, South Carolina, has started charging readers $7.95 a year to access content devoted to Clemson University sports. Those subscribers view 40 to 70 pages per visit, compared with 6 to 8 pages on Gannett’s free websites, according to the McLean, Virginia-based company.

Paying customers “like what they are seeing,” Dubow said.

The company started a branding and marketing campaign designed to show advertisers and consumers that Gannett spans multiple platforms. Along with the campaign, called “It’s All Within Reach,” Gannett introduced a new logo and corporate website.

After soliciting input from customers and advertising agencies, Gannett decided to raise brand awareness, Dubow said.

“Our consumers and business customers really want media and marketing solutions to be put together for them by the company,” he said.

Gannett fell 19 cents to $16.05 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have risen 6.4 percent this year.

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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