GMG considers charging for parts of Guardian.co.uk

Guardian Media Group is considering charging for content in some specialist areas of Guardian.co.uk such as Media Guardian, its chief executive Carolyn McCall has revealed.

Speaking at the opening session of the Fipp World Magazine Congress in London, McCall said that many publishers are currently rethinking their online revenue models.

She said: “If you are a national news site which prides itself on high quality content, if you have the BBC which can put out content for free on every single aspect of politics, current affairs, government, community – it’s very difficult to pay for content because you are in competition with the BBC.”

But she added: “There will be some parts of our website – Media Guardian, specialist areas – where we should think about how we should charge for content.

“More people are looking seriously at how they can make money charging for content that costs a lot of money to make. I don’t think we will be doing much content online in B2B unless we get money for it.

“It’s crazy that we do so much to put content out there but we don’t get money for it”, she said, adding that the traffic Google drives to news websites is “no longer a fair swap because we can’t really monetise traffic in the way we were”.

McCall did note however that GMG is making “lots of money” out of sites such as Autotrader and Guardian Jobs.

Speaking at the same session, chief executive of India Today Group Aroon Purie, said: “The digital model being followed by media in developed countries is a pretty dumb model. You have a monopolistic newsstand like Google putting your content out for free, competing for selling advertising with you and your digital sites.

“We are not going to spend any money on this digital business because we don’t see any money coming in. There are 320 million mobile phones in India. That for us this is the future.”

Leading magazine industry chief executives were gloomy about the prospects of a quick economic recovery.

Bill Kerr, chief executive of US-based magazine and media company Meredith Corporation, predicted that advertising in the US will “bottom out” in the last quarter of this year.

He said: “2010 will be a flattish this year with some recovery in magazines and a much slower recovery in broacasting.”

McCall said: “B2B is not going to be immune from this downturn by any stretch but it is going to be more resilient. People who are expecting the recovery to come back in the same way in display or advertising are going to be disappointed.”

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