Times Ends Fee on TimesSelect Content

Bloomberg News
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New York Times Co. will eliminate a charge to view columnists and access archives on the Web site of its flagship newspaper.

The TimesSelect service, offering access to columnists such as Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman, began two years ago, charging $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, the New York Times reported today in an article on its Web site.

Dropping the fee reflects the view that advertising sales may be a more important source of Internet revenue than subscription fees, the article said. The service had about 227,000 paid subscribers, the article reported, out of 787,000 overall, and had sales of $10 million, the newspaper reported.

New York Times has invested in its Web sites and specialized sections for its newspapers to attract more readers and bolster advertising sales. Internet ad sales rose 28 percent in August compared with a year earlier, while ad revenue overall was little changed, the company said Wednesday.

"The Times should be commended for experimenting with TimesSelect, but limiting access to high-profile columnists isn't the right approach," Merrill Brown, an industry consultant and former editor of the MSNBC network, said before the announcement. "To sell more advertising, the Times' Web site needs as many viewers as it can get."

Shares of New York Times Co. fell 15 cents, to $19.65, the lowest closing price in more than 10 years. They have declined 19 percent this year.

In addition to ending fees, the newspaper will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, the article said. Archives from 1851 to 1922 are in the public domain.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company