Will news be free forever?

It will be if you read Le Figaro, according to PaidContent UK as the French newspaper prepares to launch its new content-access service on Monday.

[…] instead of hoisting up a paywall around all its news content, Le Fig is going for a freemium model, charging only for extras like newsletters, a digital copy of its printed edition, social media features – and booking you a dinner table. The new features come in three tiers, but spokesperson Antoine Daccord tells paidContent:UK: “News will be free forever…”

It seems similar to the Financial Times’ model of free access to some content but you pay for what the FT considers as premium content. One difference the FT has is that you have to register after a certain number of accesses during a month, although some content is still free, notably news content.

The FT is going deeper with different approaches including a micropayment system as part of its plans to introduce day passes for content access, according to managing director Rob Grimshaw in an interview with Journalism.co.uk last month (and there’s additional commentary about the FT’s pricing model plans by Judith Townend).

All this is an entirely different model to that of The New York Times and News International (publisher of The Times and The Sun, among others) with their uncompromising you-pay-for-everything approach to getting at the content they publish online, including news.

Freemium works well if the FT is any indicator (I’m a paying subscriber, incidentally). But if people are willing to pay for access to all the content they want, including news, you might build a viable business if all your numbers add up.

Isn’t it that simple?

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