- Title: UNITED KINGDOM/FILE: FT's CEO welcomes move by Google on paid content
- Date: 4th December 2009
- Summary: NEWSPAPERS
- Embargoed: 19th December 2009 12:00
- Topics: Communications,Finance
- Reuters ID: LVA8HD8CIYMPPS89PC25CL8K96FI
- Story Text: Google is making changes to the way its services handle news, in an apparent attempt to appease news providers who are angry the search giant is undermining their ability to effectively charge for content.
In a blog post about a program called First Click Free, Google's senior business product manager Josh Cohen wrote: 'Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free. Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing."
The surprise move comes after reports surfaced that News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch had held discussions with Microsoft that would potentially see him delist News Corp. content from Google and get paid to allow access via by Microsoft's rival search engine Bing.
Speaking ahead of the Reuters Global Media summit on Wednesday (December 2), Financial Times Chief Executive John Ridding welcomed the Google announcement but said it would not alter the FT's strategy, which prompts readers to buy subscriptions if they want to read more than 10 FT stories per month.
"I think for us, we've already developed a successful paid-for model, which is working very well for us and we're seeing very strong growth in subscriptions and subscription revenues. I think for the industry as a whole it's very interesting and potentially important because there are many publishers who haven't yet developed paid-for models who are looking at a cyclical and structural decline in advertising revenues, which is obviously raising some serious and profound questions about the business model," Ridding said.
He added subscriptions for FT.com have grown 22 percent year on year, and revenues have jumped even more - 30 percent, due to price increases.
Currently, online readers can access up to 10 free FT stories per month, before being prompted to subscribe, but Ridding says the paper is working on a micropayments system he expects to roll out sometime next year.
He sees this as reinforcing the subscription model - but says there is no one size fits all solution to the question of what content is worth in the digital age.
Google said it would keep talking to publishers to refine its methods.
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