Singapore's Straits Times Claims Profits, But Decides To Charge For Access

from the we're-doing-so-well,-we-might-as-well-stop dept

In something of a followup to our post yesterday about how the Wall Street Journal risked its ability to stay relevant by charging for its online content Gerry Ho writes “Singapore’s only main English paper, The Straits Times has decided to force current readers to cough up money for its online contents. In a letter sent to all online subscribers, the paper said that “it’s not a tenable business model to charge for the print edition of the newspaper and not for its online edition.” The new subscription costs S$120 (US$73.50) a year. It is particularly ironic that the newspaper could make such a claim when the parent company, Singapore Press Holdings has recently claimed profits of S$221.6 million (US135.7 million).” Gerry’s claim is a bit strong. The paper isn’t “forcing” anyone to do anything. They’re offering a choice (pay or don’t pay) and many people will likely choose not to pay. To be clear, if a paper wants to charge for access online, they’re certainly free to do so. If the think they can make it work, go right ahead. It’s just that the trend lines seem pretty clear, that it’s going to be increasingly difficult to do that with generic news — especially when readers are used to getting their news for free. The WSJ is one of the few that has been able to make it work so far, and they have a tremendous reputation to work off of. However, the issue goes beyond today, but into the future. If you look at how people no longer just “consume” the news, but also share the news, this move actually makes the content less valuable in an online world to most users since they can no longer share it. That suggests the move will backfire. Making your own product less valuable, while charging more for it seems like a recipe for trouble.

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