| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The Wall Street Journal said on Sunday
that its Web site now has 1 million subscribers, a milestone
for a site that charges for access even as other sites are
throwing themselves open for free.
It also comes as News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch, who is
buying the Journal's parent company Dow Jones & Company Inc,
contemplates scrapping the Journal's subscription model in
favour of free access supported by advertising.
Combined circulation for the print and electronic editions
of the Journal fell 1.5 percent to 2.01 million for the six
months that ended September 30, compared with the same period a
year ago. The Journal attributed the drop to pruning its paid
circulation lists of copies that it sells in bulk and at
Print circulation was about 1.66 million, down 2.9 percent
from 1.71 million in the same period last year.
Online subscriptions have been rising. Dow Jones in October
said paid subscriptions to WSJ.com grew 25.5 percent in the
third quarter to 989,000, partially because of an offer for new
subscribers to get both the print and online editions.
Dow Jones cites the amount of subscribers to WSJ.com as
proof that it is possible to charge for access to news when
most news outlets have failed to pull it off.
The New York Times in September ended its TimesSelect
service that charged for access to some of its content, while
the Financial Times now lets people get access to 30 free
stories a month.
Despite the success of WSJ.com at pulling in more paying
subscribers, Murdoch has said that he is thinking about making
the site free, which likely would attract more readers and
Dow Jones officials have declined to say whether they will
make the site free.
The Journal's statistics come as more than 700 U.S.
newspapers prepare to release their latest circulations
statistics on Monday through the Audit Bureau of Circulations,
an industry group composed of publishers and advertisers.
Every six months, the bureau releases the average daily
paid and Sunday circulation figures for the print editions of
most U.S. newspapers.
In the past several periods, paid circulation has trickled
as publishers cut back the number of discounted copies they
count as "paid," and as more people drop their print editions
in favour of free Web sites or other media.
The numbers that the audit bureau will release on Monday
contain new ways of measuring readership that publishers hope
will convince businesses that newspapers remain a good place to
advertise even as print circulation numbers fall.
The figures will include online readership as well as print
readership -- the number of people estimated to read the paper
rather than just the number of paid copies sold.
It also will contain "net unduplicated" print and online
audience, people who read the print and online editions without
counting those people twice if they read both.