Toronto Star to Drop Online Paywall, Develop New App

The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper, is dropping its online paywall, pulling back from a revenue model it debuted just over a year ago.

The Star will stop charging for online access to its stories in 2015 and develop a new tablet product in conjunction with Montreal’s La Presse newspaper, Torstar Corp., the paper’s parent company, said today in its third-quarter earnings report. Torstar said the move may affect circulation revenue.

Canadian newspapers, including the Globe and Mail and dailies owned by PostMedia Network Canada Corp., have begun charging for online access as advertising revenue declines.

Newspaper subscribers weren’t using the online version as much as the paper expected, so the company is moving to treat its online and newspaper audiences as separate groups, John Cruickshank, the paper’s publisher, said on a conference call today.

The Star introduced the paywall in 2013 in a bid to develop a new revenue stream, according to a statement.

Torstar fell 0.1 percent to C$6.74 at the close of trading in Toronto and has gained 15 percent this year.

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