US newspaper group moves toward 'paywalls'

McClatchy Co., one of the largest US newspapers group, said Friday it would begin moving toward paywalls for its news websites in response to the industry's economic woes.

The publisher of 30 dailies including The Miami Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Kansas City Star said it would begin "metered" Web access in five of its markets starting in the third quarter.

"We will offer readers a combined print and digital subscription package that will include access to Web, certain mobile and replica editions for a relatively small increase to print home-delivery rates," McClatchy president and chief executive Pat Talamantes said in a statement.

"We'll also offer online-only digital subscriptions to users after they read a certain number of pages. Once the first wave is launched, we intend to expand this model to our other markets beginning in the fourth quarter of this year."

With newspapers under pressure from declining print circulation and advertising, publishers are struggling to get revenues from websites, which have been mostly free.

The New York Times began charging in March 2011 for full access to NYTimes.com and it launched a subscription-only website for the Boston Globe in October.

Gannett, the largest US newspaper chain, has also begun moving toward charging for online access at some of its dailies, along with MediaNews Group Inc.

McClatchy said it earned a profit of $26.9 million in the past quarter. Revenues fell 4.8 percent to $299.3 million, with drops in circulation and print advertising offset in part by growth in digital ads.

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