AOL UK is to “demolish” its walled garden and make its
subscription-only news service available to all internet users, the head of online service's news section has confirmed.
Simon Hinde, head of AOL’s Day News Team confirmed the move in a speech at the Newswatch 2006
conference at Bournemouth Media School on Thursday.
Hinde said that the AOL news in the UK will follow the American site AOL.com,
which removed barriers to non-subscribers last year.
AOL.co.uk has been gradually making
news available to non-subscribers since then. The move will enable them
to cash in on advertising revenues, while premium content will remain
available only to subscribers.
Hinde insisted that “news and content is profitable” and spoke of a
future in which AOL, MSN Google and Yahoo! would become identified with
certain users, in the the same way that Sun readers and Guardian
readers are a recognisable “type”.
As readers become disillusioned with the "news with attitude"
approach of newspapers there would be a growing demand for a “less spun
versions of the news” said Hinde.
AOL’s desire to develop its own distinctive tone of voice means that
its expectations of content providers is also changing said Hinde, who
argued that online “content is free”. He also claimed that the “one size fits
all” approach from content providers would no longer work.