Canada's Globe and Mail to erect online paywall

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper has announced plans for an online paywall to generate extra revenue and has also asked staff to take unpaid leave amid an ongoing slide in advertising income.

The publisher of the Toronto-based newspaper told staff Thursday that the new system would begin later this year, with readers being asked to pay if they read more than a certain number -- yet to be decided -- of articles each month.

The prices charged will also be decided later, publisher Phillip Crawley said, explaining that the decisions are in response to falling print and digital advertising sales at newspaper companies in North America and Europe.

"We have chosen to go for the big move rather than do it a step at a time," Crawley said, referring to the plan to charge for all content instead of its earlier intention to use a paywall only when accessing business news articles.

"Based on what we see going on in the advertising market, we've decided to go for it now. We had already made the decision, it was a case of how quickly we would do it," Crawley said.

The decision to ask staff to take unpaid leave this summer was designed to temporarily reduce costs at the newspaper, he said, in an announcement that was cautiously welcomed by the local journalists' union.

"We're hopeful that the request for unpaid time off will significantly reduce the company's need for further cost-cutting," said Sue Andrew, unit chair at the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild.

Only two weeks ago, The Globe and Mail announced a money-saving distribution agreement with its biggest rival title the Toronto Star which both newspapers said should result in substantial "economies of scale."

The Globe and Mail's paywall move follows that of The New York Times Co., which began charging in March 2011 for full access to NYTimes.com, in a move that the company said last month was beginning to pay off.

Crawley said the Globe has "obviously learned from their experience," which has seen the Times reduce its number of free articles per month to 10 from the original 20.

Other newspapers have been using paywalls with varying degrees of success.

The New York Times Co. last October also launched a subscription-only website for the Boston Globe, which it owns.

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