Netimperative (www.netimperative. com), the IT and new media information website founded two years ago by senior staff from New Media Age, has gone into receivership. This is the second time the online venture has had serious problems. An e-mail last Friday from founder Felicia Jackson to subscribers said: "Netimperative.com is taking a short break due to an unexpected requirement to transfer our operations to a new platform. Neither the site nor the newsletters will be accessible for a couple of weeks, but we hope to have the service up and running for you soon." But by Monday it was a slightly different story, with the site revealing details of what has happened. Netimperative took the brave step last year to charge for premium access to its archive, but despite raising money this way, it is likely it was not able to fully cover running costs. Without the backing of a rich parent, Netimperative has struggled but has shown that it is a useful service – just a pity that users of the service could not always be turned into paying subscribers.
Will they start charging for content or not? That’s the question GuardianUnlimited seems to be pondering in a recent online survey. One question noted that other media organisations were looking at charging for content, and asked respondents whether they would be prepared to pay £10 a month to access the service, if this was something Media Guardian introduced. With news that the FT is set to reveal its pricing for access to contents shortly, it’s certainly an interesting time to see newspaper owners looking at how they get out of the mess of giving out prime content for free, and being able to cover their costs.
Charging for content has to be the way forward as revenue streams from advertising and sponsorship generally don’t cover the high running costs of operating websites and employing quality staff. Once people are comfortable with paying and understand the value of what they are getting, there should be no real worries about charging. But, of course, it’s going to take one brave publisher to set the standard for charging readers for online access and to make it work.
365, the online venture once fronted by former Q and Total Sport editor Danny Kelly is no more. Having merged all its content sites and services with the Chrysalis-backed Rivals.net, 365 is to be renamed EckohTechnologies (www.eckoh.com) to better reflect its new focus on supplying communications technology.