Testing the waters of Internet subscription

Rupert Murdoch's British broadsheet paper The Times is to test the waters of Internet subscriptions by charging users an annual fee for its online crossword.

Murdoch will become the first UK newspaper owner to charge for Internet content when The Times begins charging crossword enthusiasts ($A27.70) a year for access to its cryptic conundrums.

The Wall Street Journal's subscription model has been a huge success but the Times Online publisher Katie Vanneck conceded that the move could deter some online users.

According to a report in the Financial Times today Murdoch's company News International has lost millions of pounds on its Internet strategy, but said the move did not mark the introduction of a blanket charge on The Times Web site.

"It is one of a number of revenue streams," it said.

However, other publishers will be watching to see if the experiment works as they consider ways to reduce their Web sites' reliance on advertising, following the decline in online advertising which is just starting to stabilise.

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