Guardian to launch paid-for online editions

By Mary Stevens

Guardian Unlimited is to launch paid-for digital versions of The Guardian and The Observer in a move to charge for part of its online content.

The online editions will be identical to the print products, including adverts and pictures, and will be available to overseas and UK subscribers.

MediaGuardian.co.uk will start charging for its media briefing e-mails later this year and users will be asked to register to access the site.

Two e-mail services, The Wrap, a daily summary of the UK papers, and The Informer, the site’s lunchtime news round-up, will also be paid-for.

Guardian Unlimited will be free to users but an ad-free version of the site will be available for £20 a year. Crosswords will also carry a charge.

Emily Bell, editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited, said: “We are absolutely committed to keeping the majority of GU free from both charge and registration, but the realities of web publishing mean that we also have to seek opportunities to maximise our revenues.

“I believe these new developments will offer users services that they will value and be happy to pay for. By increasing our revenues in this way, we will be able to reinvest to ensure that editorial and technical innovation on the site remains ahead of the pack.”

Simon Waldman, director of digital publishing, Guardian Newspapers, said: “We have always said paid-for content is a part of our future, but it is no panacea: it needs to be seen as part of a balanced business with a mix of revenues. Our strategy is designed to allow us to introduce a healthy strand of subscription income to Guardian Unlimited, while continuing to grow our core advertising revenues and extend the reach of our brands.”

Last week, Hollinger Telegraph New Media announced it was to launch Telegraph Screenprint, offering digital editions of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph to subscribers.

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