A.H. Belo (NYSE: AHC) will begin to charge users to access some content on the site of its flagship Dallas Morning News, making the 264,459 circulation paper one of the largest local dailies to limit free access to its site to date. The only bigger papers in the United States to announce their intentions to put up paywalls are the New York Times and Boston Globe, both of which are expected to charge online readers to access content beginning early this year. Newsday ended free access to its site last fall.
A.H. Belo said last November that it would experiment with putting up paywalls on some of its websites within six months. After repeated delays, one of its papers, the Providence Journal, announced two months ago it would only post excerpts from many of its local stories online in an attempt to drive up print edition sales. The strategy appeared to be an acknoledgment that the company didn’t believe it could generate much meaningful revenue from charging readers to access full versions online.
At the Morning News, A.H. Belo is taking a more traditional paywall approach, saying it will only allow paying readers access to “proprietary news and information developed by The News’ local news, sports and other journalists.” Breaking news, blogs, obituatries, classifieds, and wire stories will stay free, according to an article in the paper.
The paywall news was included in an announcement that the paper was revamping its website and launching iPhone and iPad apps. Readers will be able to pay $16.95 a month for a “comprehensive digital package” that will include full access to content on the paper’s site, as well as subscriptions to the iPad and iPhone apps. They will also be able to pay an unspecified lower amount to access content on one of those platforms. Print subscribers, who pay roughly $33.95 a month, will get full access to the apps and the new website as part of their subscription.