Montreal

Canadian papers move to paid website

The websites of the Montreal Gazette and Victoria Times Colonist newspapers will no longer be free to all visitors as parent company Postmedia is testing a new subscription-based model.

Victoria Times Colonist, montrealgazette.com will allow 20 free views before requiring payment

The websites of the Montreal Gazette and Victoria Times Colonist newspapers will no longer be free to all visitors as parent company Postmedia is testing a new subscription-based model.

Viewers of the papers' online editions who don't have a subscription will have limited access as the websites become metered.

Similar policies have already been adopted by many major newspapers around the world such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Starting Wednesday, the Gazette and Times Colonist say non-subscribers will have access to up 20 articles every 30 days.

Those who are already print subscribers to the Gazette will have unlimited access to the digital edition for free but those who don't already receive the print edition will have to pay $6.95 per month, or $69.95 per year.

Local breaking news, blogs and related sites will be exempt from metering.

Monthly online subscriptions to the Times Colonist digital edition are $9.95, while current print edition subscribers can get full access for $2.95 a month.

The digital subscriptions will be billed every four weeks and the content is available on smartphones and web-enabled mobile devices.

Readers 'willing to pay' says Gazette publisher

Gazette publisher and Editor-In-Chief Alan Allnutt said the paper is simply following the lead of other North American newspapers  in charging for its online content.

"People's habits are changing," said Allnutt. "We're starting to see the fact that people are willing to pay for different things online that they perhaps weren't in the past."

Outside websites affiliated with the newspaper, such as hockeyinsideout.com and westislandgazette.com, will remain accessible to those who chose not to pay the monthly fee.

Allnutt said the paper needs to experiment with different sources of revenue, since there's no guarantee the current advertising revenue model will be viable in the future.

He said 20 views is a substantial number and the new system won't affect the majority of people who scan the site's headlines.

"It'll be people who have essentially substituted our site for the print newspaper that will be most affected by this," Allnutt said.

People who use Twitter and are redirected to the Montreal Gazette website through an embedded link will not have to pay to read the initial article.