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Times and Sunday Times websites to charge from June

The two titles will charge users £1 for a day, and £2 for a week, for access to online content.

The Times and Sunday Times newspapers will start charging for content online in June, publisher News International has announced.

Users will pay £1 for a day's access, and £2 for a week subscription.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, said that this was "a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting prospect".

Both papers will relaunch their websites at the beginning of May. This will replace the existing website, Times Online, and give them distinct, separate digital identities for the first time.

These new sites will be available to registered customers for free for a trial period. The daily payment will give readers access to both sites, but the weekly subscription will include special digital services, such as an e-paper and new applications. Existing subscribers to the print version will have access to the online version.

The two titles are the first in the UK to erect a paywall around digital content, and will be closely watched by the rest of the industry.

Media companies have been searching for a business model that will make websites profitable, as newspaper sales decline, in what Brooks called "a defining moment for journalism".

However, because of the wide range of news content available for free online, News International's strategy is seen as risky.

Brooks said: "This is just the start. the Times and the Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach."