Europe's top-selling newspaper, "Bild", has announced it will begin charging readers for selected online content. Executives admitted that enacting a paywall was an experiment which could also backfire.
Germany's largest mass-circulation daily, "Bild", would put a paywall for selected online content in place as early as June 11, the newspaper reported May 28. It said monthly subscriptions would range from 4.99 to 14.99 euros ($6.45 to 19) for some content on computers, smartphones and tablets.
Purchasers of the printed edition would receive a pass allowing them to view the content in question, the Axel Springer publishing house explained - with a "Day Pass" printed in each hard copy of the daily. The publisher said large portions of the bild.de website would remain free, but exclusive reports, some interviews and photos would be available only for a fee.
Online editor-in-chief Manfred Hart added that football fans would be able to pay a premium to view highlights for an additional 2.99 euros per month. Media experts said the move came as more newspapers worldwide experimented with charging for online content.
A big experiment
"Independent journalism only has a chance in the digital world when it can be financed with advertizing and sales revenues like the classic print business," executive board member Andreas Wiele said in a statement.
"Bild" said it would decide on a daily basis which articles and video products would be labeled as premium content, adding it was planning to increase the share of paid content over time. It hoped readers would increasingly be ready to accept such a business model.
"But we know it can also go wrong," Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner acknowledged. He said it had no expectations to create millions in revenue right away. Germany's other leading news website, Spiegel Online, has so far rejected the idea of a paywall.
hg/msh (AP, dpa)