In Slovakia, good pay walls make good neighbors. The Central European country’s top news outlets have set aside their historic rivalries and become partners in what is effectively a national Internet pay wall. In May some readers began to pay €2.90 ($4.18) a month or €29 a year for full access to the websites of the nine participating media organizations, which include daily newspapers SME, Pravda, and Hospodárske noviny, the newsweekly týždeň, and other publications. “I am pleasantly surprised” with the system, says Peter Mačinga, a board member of Petit Press, the company that publishes SME. “We tried a few things on our own a few years ago, and it wasn’t encouraging.”
The new pay model is operated by Piano Media, a Bratislava tech company. Tomáš Bella, Piano’s chief executive officer, says it took a year of meetings to persuade the nine publications to get on board. Most of the partners were already considering charging for online access to their sites but were worried about losing too much traffic, says Bella, who once worked on SME’s website.