Washington Post unveils paywall plans after slump in print advertising revenues

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Washington Post said on Wednesday it would start a metered paywall beginning on June 12, offering digital subscription packages at between US$9.99 (S$12.51) and US$14.99 per month.

The Post had been one of few remaining major United States newspapers to offer its content free of charge online, but it has been facing financial struggles along with the rest of the industry.

Readers will be able to view 20 articles or features per month before being asked to subscribe, publisher Katharine Weymouth said in an online posting.

"We hope you will consider subscribing even if you don't reach the limit; a subscription will provide unlimited access to all The Post's world-class journalism, multimedia and interactive features and more," Ms Weymouth said.

"Importantly, you will also be helping to support our newsgathering operations."

Ms Weymouth said it would take "a few weeks" to phase in the new paywall system.

Home delivery subscribers will have digital access included. And The Post's homepage and section front pages, videos and classified advertising would be excluded from the paywall, as will articles viewed through search engines or shared links.

Digital packages will be priced at US$9.99 per month for access to the desktop and mobile Web US$14.99 for an all-digital package which includes access to The Post's custom apps.

In its most recent results, the Washington Post Co said newspaper operations were hit by slumping circulation and print advertising revenues, offset in part by gains in digital ad sales.

Overall, the profit for the quarter was US$4.7 million, a drop of 85 per cent from the same period a year ago when the net profit was US$31 million.

The results showed an operating loss for newspaper operations of US$34.5 million.