AOL opens up 'walled garden', creating free news site

AOL UK is to open its subscription-only services to all internet users, in a move that will put its news website in direct competition with other portals such as MSN, Yahoo! and Google News.

Simon Hinde, head of AOL's day news team, confirmed the move in a speech at the Newswatch 2006 conference at Bournemouth Media School.

"There are certain organisations, in niches, who can charge for specialist information. In the general information markets, free content is here to stay,"

Hinde said.

He added that AOL's news site, which has 12 subs but no reporters, is already profitable, based on a model of purchasing material from content providers such as PA and selling advertising.

"News is profitable, all content is profitable," said Hinde.

This week, AOL announced that it was relaunching Netscape.com as a community-moderated news aggregator to rival Newsvine or Digg.com, and that it would be launching a social networking site simlar to News Corp's MySpace.

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