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It's an issue that all news publications have been grappling with since they set up their websites. Bill Mitchell reports in Poynter Online :
The New York Times is testing a price point of $5 a month for access to nytimes.com, with a 50 percent discount for print subscribers.
The Times e-mailed a survey to print subscribers Thursday afternoon inviting their reaction to that pricing plan and asking a range of questions about online pricing.
New York Times Co. spokeswoman Catherine Mathis confirmed in a telephone interview that the Times had sent the survey, but said no timetable has been set for a decision and no decisions have been made about online pricing.
The survey reads: "The New York Times website, nytimes.com, is considering charging a monthly fee of $5.00 to access its content, including all its articles, blogs and multimedia. All of this content is currently available for free.
"When answering the following questions, please think about whether you would be willing to pay for continued unlimited access to nytimes.com.
"How likely would you be to pay a $2.50 monthly fee -- which would be a 50% discount for home delivery subscribers -- for continued, unlimited access to nytimes.com?"
Perhaps a similar survey is called for here in India as well. Historically, Outlook has remained entirely free from the very beginning. Two other newsweeklies decided initially to be for print/paid subscribers only but perhaps found that they were still incurring costs for the websites they had set up and hardly had any extra paid readers. So they too later joined the world wide model of opening up their content for all. The question, however, remains: What are publications to do if web advertising doesn't contribute any significant proportion of extra costs incurred for setting up and maintaining these websites? Hope that some sort of a micro-payment model on per view/click becomes viable...? Treat these website costs as part of brand-building and advertising costs? Keep on waiting Micawber-like for somethign to turn up?