Sun set to remain outside News International paywall

There are no plans to put the Sun behind the News International paywall, a senior figure at the company said last night.

When Rupert Murdoch originally announced plans to charge users for online content in August 2009, he said the plan was for all News Corp‘s newspapers to go behind paywalls.

The NoW began charging users for online access in October 2010 but the Sun remains the only newspaper in News International’s UK stable that remains free.

It was anticipated that Britain’s biggest-selling daily newspaper would follow, but News International’s chief marketing officer Kate Vanneck-Smith said there were no immediate plans to do so.

She was speaking at an event organised by Press Gazette and City University last night called Beyond the Paywall: How are we going to pay for quality journalism in a digital world?

Vanneck-Smith said News International felt that a ‘mixed model and blended models are right, and the best way to pursue, I think, a very vibrant and a very exciting journalism future for this country”.

Asked when the Sun would move behind the paywall, she replied: ‘I think we have all said that the models are mixed so there is no plan at the moment, there is no date for when The Sun will have paid-for as part of its model for its digital websites in terms of news access, but as you know we have lots of paid-for extensions already at The Sun.”

Vanneck-Smith later added that while there was no date set, the company was ‘always looking”.

Noting that in February the number of subscribers to times.co.uk grew three per cent to more than 79,000, compared with a 12 per cent drop in print readership, she said: ‘For the first time in the 15 years that I’ve worked in newspapers I see a long-term trend. It’s a positive trend and that fills me with excitement.”

She added: ‘News International is now making more money week-in week-out from its digital business than from an ad-only model with 20m users.’This last figure related to the 20 million monthly unique users The Times website had pre-paywall.

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