Seems like everyone is jumping on this bandwagon. The Washington Post “probably” will introduce a paywall in the middle of 2013, the paper reports — after parent company Chairman Donald Graham told an investor conference this week that he’s considering one. E.W. Scripps also told the confab that it will ask readers to pay for digital access in 14 newspaper markets. And now The Daily Beast is “exploring” metered access, it told Bloomberg. These aren’t isolated cases: The number of U.S. newspapers with a paywall “has at least doubled this year,” The Economist reports adding: “More than a quarter of newspapers now have one, and most big groups that do not have plans to charge for digital access.” Papers need to generate cash to make up for the decline in ad sales. The industry generated $23.9B in 2011, the lowest it had been since 1984. In addition, companies including The New York Times and Gannett have reported success with their paywalls. The effort at Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher, will result in the first uptick in six years in circulation revenue it told investors this week.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is prepared to junk federal rules that limit companies from owning TV and radio stations in the same market — and go half way in doing the same for TV stations and newspapers. He’s circulating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would wipe out the TV-newspaper restriction in the 20 largest markets, trade magazine Broadcasting and Cable reports citing “a person familiar with the document.” But it would keep a test that could block a combo in smaller markets if it would result in less local news, less diversity of voices, or too much concentration of economic power. Genachowski’s proposal sounds a lot like the standard that former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, pushed through in 2008. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned those rules this past July, saying that Martin hadn’t given the public enough time to weigh in on them. Public interest advocates who want to preserve cross-ownership restrictions applauded the court decision. Newspaper and broadcast owners say that mergers are needed to preserve local newsrooms as their companies compete against a massive number of national news competitors on cable TV and the Internet. As part of the rulemaking process, the FCC will ask whether stations skirt the ownership limits
This is sure to chill all of the newspaper and magazine companies that thought subscribers would return to the fold once the content became available on the sexy mobile devices. The finding comes from the most detailed study yet of the 11% of the country that owns a tablet, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group. They found that 53% use their tablets every day to catch up on the news — making that the second most popular activity after Web surfing (67%). Tablet news fans like to check out different sources, including many they never look at on TV or their PCs. And it isn’t just for headlines; 42% say that they read long news articles or analyses. But only 21% say they’d be willing to pay as much as $5 a month for news on their tablets. That jibes with other data showing that 14% say that they’ve paid directly for news on their tablets, although 23% have subscriptions to newspapers or magazines that include digital access. For the most part, owners use the portable screens as a substitute for the news that they used to track on their PCs or laptops — but nearly six in 10 also use their tablets as a substitute for newspapers, magazines, and TV newscasts.