Newsweek/Daily Beast Co., the media company founded by Tina Brown and backed by billionaire Barry Diller, is considering charging readers for access to its Daily Beast website for the first time.

The New York-based company, which merged with Newsweek magazine last year, is contemplating a shift to so-called metered access, spokesman Andrew Kirk said. That approach, used by the New York Times and other publications, typically lets readers see a number of stories for free and then charges for anything beyond that.

“Like many other media companies, we are exploring metered access down the line,” Kirk said in an interview.

The proposal would follow a decision to cut staff and cease publication of Newsweek as a print magazine, ending the weekly’s eight-decade run. The last print edition in the U.S. will be the Dec. 31 issue.

The company, a unit of Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, plans to reintroduce Newsweek as an electronic publication -- with paying subscribers -- early next year. The idea is to capitalize on the growth of e-readers and tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad.

While some of the magazine’s content will still be available on the Daily Beast site, Newsweek’s shift to a paid-subscription model may put more pressure on the Daily Beast to do the same. Visitors to Newsweek and Daily Beast are currently directed to the same Web address, making it difficult to impose restrictions on just one of the publications.

Brown, who serves as the Daily Beast’s editor-in-chief, founded the company with Diller in 2008 as a hub for Internet news and commentary. Brown was previously the editor of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Talk.

Since then, IAC’s media operations have been a drag on the company’s results. The division that includes the Daily Beast lost $13.2 million last quarter.

Both the Daily Beast and Newsweek newsrooms are cutting jobs today, Brown said in a memo to staff. Newsweek was on track to lose $22 million this year before plans to close the print edition were announced, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this year.

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