Belfast daily drops full website paywall and opts for metered model

A Northern Irish daily newspaper is to introduce a metered paywall for its newly relaunched website.  

Belfast-based Irish News will follow several other regional titles in introducing a metered paywall, which will come into effect at the end of the month. The title’s previous website blocked access for all non-subscribers.

The announcement comes after a re-launch of the website on 25 June to include more photos and videos, as well as live blogs, interactive puzzles and user-generated content. The website will be free to all readers until 28 July.

After this date readers will have to pay to read more than ten articles a month. Online subscriptions will cost 64p per day, or £4.49 for a week. A selection of packages combining print and online will also be available on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.  

The Irish News had a print circulation of 38,581 in February this year.

Other regional titles that have started charging for online content include the Northern Echo, which introduced a metered paywall in May, three months after the Jersey Evening Post. The Aberdeen Press & Journal began charging for access in May last year.  The Herald in Glasgow also has a metered paywall.

Irish News digital editor Susan Thompson said: “Like many other publishers we have watched as people grapple with the best ways to adapt and respond to this rapid period of technological change and we felt that quality journalism is worth paying for.

“We looked at all the options open to us and we felt that the metered paywall has the ability to give people a flavour for your journalism and then persuade people who would not have seen themselves as Irish news subscribers to become members.  

“The tide is definitely turning, we have seen a lot of publishers spend a great deal of time working out how to make money as advertising and digital revenues do not make up for the declining newspaper sales. The subscription model goes a long way to help fill that gap.”

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