OVERSEAS readers of Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will have to pay for the privilege as of next month.
Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has announced a plan to put paywalls in place for overseas readers by the end of March. Paywalls for Australian readers will follow in the middle of the year.
“Metro digital subscriptions will start to be rolled out in offshore markets on schedule in March, with subsequent domestic launch to follow,” he said.
News Ltd’s The Australian has had soft paywalls in place for sometime. It allows readers free access to limited content, with payment required to read most articles in full.
Fairfax will introduce a similar style of paywall. Mr Hywood said the measures were in line with the company ensuring strong balance sheets in tough trading conditions.
The move follows proposed changes to the format of flagship papers The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age. The traditional broadsheet will be replaced with a tabloid style ‘compact’.
Mr Hywood has insisted despite the change to a tabloid format the tone of the paper will not change.
‘‘The size might be changing physically but the journalism that we pursue and practice is not going to change one bit,’’ he said.
In a competitive media market Fairfax Media have experienced declining circulation in recent years, and have been forced to cut costs to try and keep papers profitable.
There will be increased competition soon in the Australian market with UK paper The Guardian launching a Aussie edition.
Mr Hywood was unconcerned about the new competitor saying The Guardian was popular in some London suburbs but “not a strongly competitive brand in Australia”.