US should go the Europe way in paywalls

Several US newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Enterprise-Record, have announced plans to

Analysts view that these papers should take a cue from the European newspapers, which they feel have been quick in implementing paywalls.

For instance, in France Le Monde' has been charging $8 a month since 2002, Le Figaro' has launched a subscription service on its website, while L'Express' is expected to follow suit.

Germany's two regional newspapers Berliner Morgenpost' and Hamburger Abendblatt', have put up paywalls around premium content. But two big national titles, Bild and Die Welt, have kept their websites free while selling iPhone-app subscriptions for $2 to $5 a month.

Similarly, Britian's top newspaper website The Guardian' launched a $3.73 iPhone app and sold 70,000 of it in the first month. Rupert Murdoch's The Times Online is likely to introduce paywalls shortly.

Many are of the view that a hybrid model of paywalls would suit most publications as they seek to develop potentially lucrative relationships with paying customers without losing on the hits that come from free content.

However, customers in the US seem to be resenting the paywall move. According to a Nielsen report, 66 per cent of poll respondents in the US said they would not pay for content, compared to 77 per cent in the UK, 66 per cent in France, and 63 per cent in Germany.

"In the long run, though, the industry has no choice. It has to find a way to get people to pay for content. It's a great experiment," said Eamonn Byrne, business director at the World Association of Newspaper Publishers.