Murdoch's The Sun tabloid to charge for online access

LONDON Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:09pm GMT

A copy of the Sun newspaper is seen next to a pint of beer in a pub in east London February 16, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

A copy of the Sun newspaper is seen next to a pint of beer in a pub in east London February 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Olivia Harris

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Sun will start charging for access to its website in a package with highlights of Premier League football matches, publisher News International (NI) said on Wednesday.

"Later this year the pay model will be applied to The Sun across every platform," said a spokesman for NI, the British newspaper arm of News Corp.

"We will be offering our valued Sun readers a bigger and better experience than they have ever had before - one that in addition to FA Premier League clips will offer a full and attractive subscription model across digital and print."

The Sun, the country's top-selling newspaper with a print circulation of 2.28 million in February according to ABC, is the only one of Murdoch's British titles to have content freely available online, although it does have a paid-for app.

The Times and The Sunday Times have been behind a paywall since 2010.

Newspaper groups are looking at ways to drive revenue from online publishing to help counter falling print circulations and tough advertising markets.

The Daily Telegraph, the country's top-selling daily broadsheet title, said on Tuesday it would start charging for its Internet edition using a metered model, which gives readers a numbers of articles for free.

The Sun, however, will be the first popular tabloid to charge for online access, and NI is hoping that offering football clips will encourage subscriptions.

Chief Executive Mike Darcey told reporters on Tuesday evening that charging for The Sun online would "iron out any inconsistencies" across the group's titles.

"And those sorts of Premier League rights can really start to kick start that transition," he said at an event at NI's London office.

NI bought the rights to show online clips of action from English Premier League football games from the 2013-2014 season in January.

Darcey did not specify pricing or a date for the change, beyond saying it would happen in the second half of the year, coinciding with the start of the football season in August.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter)

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