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paidContent - Guardian Mulls Paid Members' Club; Rules Out Pay Wall, Calling It 'Stupid'

This story was written by Robert Andrews.

As the search for new newspaper income rolls on, The Guardian is asking readers’ views on a proposed pay-for “members’ club” to “support The Guardian financially.”

It sent a survey yesterday that said (via LiberalConspiracy): “The Guardian is considering launching a members club, which will provide extra benefits in return for an annual or monthly fee. These benefits might include, for example, a welcome pack, exclusive content, live events, special offers from our partners and the opportunity to communicate with our journalists.”

A spokesperson tells paidContent:UK: “A small representative group of people were asked a number of general open questions—this is just at the ideas stage.”

The Guardian not only has a degree of brand loyalty, it also has several niche audiences it could call upon from its daily supplements—media, education, society, technology and entertainment—some of which already have associated events and other extras. It may be that survey results will indicate a greater desire to belong to a “club” than to pay for content.

GMG CEO Carolyn McCall, who has launched a three-year strategy review likely to make Guardian News & Media smaller, said in May said the paper should think about charging for parts of its website that are not replicable.

But GNM digital director Emily Bell is ruling out a pay wall in no uncertain terms (via LiberalConspiracy): “No, we are not contemplating a pay wall, nor as far as Im concerned would we ever. They are a stupid idea in that they restrict audiences for largely replicable content. Murdoch no doubt will find this out even rudimentary math suggests he will struggle with a completely free model to meet advertising revenue levels across the NI offerings.

“We are obviously looking at other methods of diversifying revenues, so this might well be where some of the confusion has arisen. I dont know how many times or how clearly I can say we wont be charging for content on the site, but we wont. Only six months ago we removed the last remaining pay wall from web content that around our crosswords! Our strategy is entirely around reach and audience engagement both of which would be irreparably damaged by pay walls.”

Disclosure: Our publisher ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.


By Robert Andrews
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