Broadsheet readers are more willing to pay for online subscriptions than tabloid readers, this week’s Essential Report shows, with the Sydney Morning Herald best placed to lure readers behind a paywall.

As the fallout continues from an historic period of turmoil in the Australian newspaper industry and after Fairfax announced it would be joining News Ltd in moving its premium content behind paywalls, only 13% of all voters said they’d be willing to pay a subscription to access news sites. However, that’s up from 9% in November, and the crucial sub-group of voters who read newspapers (either online or paper versions) are much more likely to do so. Sydney Morning Herald readers are the most likely: 28% say they would pay a subscription, with 69% saying they wouldn’t. 25% of Australian readers say they would, and 22% of Age readers. The tabloids fare more poorly though: only 18% of Telegraph and Courier-Mail readers would pay, and only 10% of Herald-Sun readers.

As last November’s results showed, younger people are significantly more likely to pay a subscription than older people, which is problematic for newspapers since few younger people read them, and particularly problematic for a paper like The Australian which is mainly aimed at older demographics and retirees.

The extent of voter misinformation about the carbon price has also been revealed in a remarkable set of answers on questions about the carbon price.

Support for the carbon price has fallen since November, with 35% of voters supporting it, down 3 points since November, and opposition up 1 point to 54%, the highest level of net opposition since the scheme was announced. 45% of voters believe it will increase the cost of living “a lot”, despite the CPI impact estimated to be 0.7%. 67% believe it will increase energy prices “a lot”; 53% expect it will increase fuel prices a lot (in fact it will have no impact on petrol prices for motorists); 41% say it will increase grocery prices a lot; and 31% even believe it will increase unemployment a lot (32% believe unemployment will remain about the same), while 22% believe it will increase interest rates (38% believe interest rates will remain much the same).

However, partisanship plays a key role in perceptions of the impact of the carbon price – Liberal voters are far more likely to believe the carbon price will have a large impact, with 62% of Liberal voters thinking it will cause costs to increase a lot.

Voters, however, are more evenly divided on whether Tony Abbott will repeal the carbon price once elected, as he was sworn a “blood oath” to do. 44% believe he is likely to repeal but 40% do not; Labor and Liberal voters are polarised on the issue but Greens voters are almost perfectly split, 42-41%.

The results could (generously) be interpeted as a positive for Labor, with voters plainly expecting dramatic changes after 1 July, and therefore likely to be pleasantly surprised once the introduction of the carbon price comes and goes without drama. They may also account for why voters are relatively cautious in their consumer spending currently.

On voting intention, there was no change from last week: Coalition 49%, Labor 33% and Greens 10%, for a 2PP outcome of 56-44%. The sample size was 1,000 respondents.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW