'Metered' Web news model = scrambled porn

To supplement the weak advertising dollar on both the print side and the Web side of the news business, media outlets have had to devise new methods of drawing revenue.

Today, The New York Times announced its own plans, which involve a "metered model" on its online content. In other words, users will be allowed to read a certain number of online articles for free, but then all further articles must be paid for.

"Our audiences are very loyal and we believe that our readers will pay for our award-winning digital content and services," Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company and publisher of The New York Times, said in a statement this morning.

The Times hasn't announced how much it will charge per article yet, but Janet L. Robinson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company said, "We were...guided by the fact that our news and information are being featured in an increasingly broad range of end-user devices and services, and our pricing plans and policies must reflect this vision."

Times Co. is already an important content partner in the exploding e-reader market, pairing with the "big three" companies Amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble, among others. If the per-article scale is based upon the cost of an e-reader subscription ($13.99 per month, or 75¢ an issue) this new model could charge only pennies.

While the metered model is decidedly more forgiving than the "pay wall" on The Wall Street Journal which News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said would be employed on all of News Corp's news Web sites, it will still have a resounding impact on the business of news aggregation and draw a thicker line between "news" and "information."

Call it a "metered model," but it sounds a lot like pay-per-view to me. As a child of the cable television epoch, I am quite familiar with content teasers. I know what it's like to have the first two minutes of a movie dangled in front of me only to have it flick over to a scrambled mess in the third minute.

This is what The New York Times is doing with its news stream.

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