Gordon Brown joins newspaper paywall debate

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has joined the debate surrounding paid-for newspaper content on the internet by suggesting readers were unlikely to pay for access to basic news.

Brown said that readers were likely, and should be encouraged, to pay for certain things online but that there was a ‘whole sort of element of communication’that should remain free.

Interviewed by Times columnist Caitlin Moran in the Radio Times, Brown said readers had got used to getting news content without having to pay.

Moran, who was named columnist of the year at last month’s British Press Awards, asked Brown if he thought paywalls, which will be introduced on her paper in June, could work.

Brown said: “I don’t think you are going to be able to put things behind paywalls in the way that people think.

“People will pay for certain things, and should pay for certain things, but I think there’s a whole sort of element of communication that’s got to be free.

“People mind paying for basic news.”

Brown’s comments come as Rupert Murdoch is about to implement a plan to move the digital content of his News International newspapers, including The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun and The News of the World, behind a paywall later this year.

Brown had previously accused Murdoch’s Sun title of trying to “become a political party” after the redtop withdrew its support from the Labour Government following Brown’s address to his party’s conference last year.

The move led to a sustained attack from senior figures in the Labour party against the newspaper.

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw said the Conservative Party had “sub-contracted” its media policy to News International, Murdoch’s British newspaper publishing wing, and condemned the company’s “rapacious’ proprietor”.

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