Summary:

If the sceptics were sceptical that The Times could successfully charge online readers, just wait until its Sunday stablemate goes the same…

If the sceptics were sceptical that The Times could successfully charge online readers, just wait until its Sunday stablemate goes the same way next month.

News International has unveiled an interesting set of price tiers that charges £1.99 per month for News Of The World website. But, unlike the site and unlike The Times’ tablet edition, a NOTW iPad app will have a weekly, not monthly, charge of £1.19.

The publisher is not particularly describing any new content for the launch, but is promising a new-look, better-functioning NOTW.co.uk site and an accompanying FabulousMag.co.uk to spin-off its celeb mag within the paywall (a similar strategy to Mirror.co.uk and its 3am.co.uk).

One can’t begrudge a publisher its attempt to restore its value and wipe out its losses and, frankly, we’re getting quite sick of the monotonous and unhelpful “It’ll never work” brigade’s lack of empathy with this key publishing predicament…

But, if acquired wisdom tells us unique and business-critical information can very well be charged for online, can one really be confident News Of The World can succeed similarly?

The paper has been boosted by its football and cricket splashes in recent weeks, but it could take a dent in public perceptions, by the time charges are introduced, if the “phone hacking” scandal goes the wrong way.

It feels more and more as though News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). in particular, is regarding web “paywalls” are merely an interim phase, before what it expects to be the replacement of newspapers with tablet editions on the same pay-for basis that newspapers have long occupied.

Here’s the announcement…

London, 16 September 2010

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