As The Australian moves to a paywall, it has become very clear that it is no panacea. Despite claims The Times now has 110,000 paying customers, News International has confirmed that around 120 journalists jobs would go from the paper — a cut of around 14-15%. Reports from London say that News blames rising newsprint costs and falling advertising and circulation revenues for the cuts.
The Times circulation has fallen sharply over the past year (by nearly 12%) from an average of 501,000 in the six months from March to September 2010 to 442,000 in the same period this year. The paywall has grown from around 70,000 to 110,000. But that has not been enough to offset the impact of falling sales and ad revenues, rising sales costs and newsprint. By way of comparison, the Financial Times said in its report on The Times job losses: “In the same period, the global circulation of the Financial Times has fallen by 9.6%t, but it has seen stronger growth in annual subscriptions to the FT.com website, with 248,000 people paying at least £208 a year — a 31% annual increase.”
In the US, The New York Times, Murdoch’s bitter rival, had some good news for a change in its September quarterly report. The company said that it had added more than 40,000 new digital subscribers since June, with 324,000 readers in total now paying for online access to the newspaper. (A similar paid model started on Wednesday for its Boston Globe paper.) The NYT has 1.2 million digital users overall, including 800,000 print subscribers who get free access to the website and 100,000 who get complimentary access as part of a sponsorship deal with Ford.
The company revealed a third-quarter profit of $US15.7 million for the three months to September, up sharply from the $4.3 million loss in the same period last year. The New York Times introduced its partial paywall in March, with monthly subscriptions charged at between $US15 and $US35. The paper said digital advertising revenue at the company’s New York Times Media Group, which publishes the paper, rose 6.2% to $US 50.3 million in the quarter, against a sharp 10.4% drop in advertising revenue overall.