23 Feb 2013

Fairfax introducing website paywalls

6:57 pm on 23 February 2013

Fairfax Media will introduce paywalls on its major newspaper websites for readers outside Australia next month and Australian readers by the middle of the year.

Chief executive Greg Hywood said on Thursday that digital subscriptions would be put in place for overseas readers of the company's flagship news sites during March.

In June 2012, Fairfax said paywalls would be introduced on its Sydney Morning Herald and The Age news websites in the first three months of 2013.

Some initial confusion on the start times for local paywalls as outlined by Mr Hywood during the briefing was later clarified by a Fairfax Media spokesperson who told AAP the rollout of the so-called metered content model was "proceeding to plan".

Fairfax is going ahead with moving the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne's The Age to a tabloid-sized "compact format" on 4 March.

Mr Hywood dismissed any threat posed to Fairfax's operations by the launch of an Australian online version of UK newspaper The Guardian.

Asked by one analyst if it would have an effect, Mr Hywood said The Guardian is an extremely good brand in some suburbs of London but not a strongly competitive brand in Australia.

The Guardian lured three senior journalists away from Fairfax to start its Australian operation.