The Isle of Wight County Press (IWCP), owned by Newsquest, publishers of 165 newspapers and on-line news outlets across the UK, has started charging for its on-line news stories with just 24 hours’ notice. No locally-owned news outlet currently charges for on-line news.
The IWCP’s news has gone behind a paywall, despite a recent Freedom of Information request revealing the Isle of Wight Council has spent an average of almost £70,000 each year with Newsquest/IWCP, over the last five years, far in excess of that spent with any local media company. The level of spend with the group is even more astonishing as it does not include the advertising spend from Island Roads, who place their own advertisements in the newspaper.
The new cost of accessing the IWCP’s website from this week is £2 per month for the first two months, then £4.99 per month thereafter. At present readers can access 20 articles per month without subscribing, which doubles to 40 articles per month if they register their details. The same charging model is in place for many Newsquest titles across the UK.
In apparent recognition that many people think there is too much advertising on the IWCP’s standard Newsquest-style website, one of the advantages of the new subscription model is described by IWCP editor, Alan Marriott, as ‘an advert-light format that so many of you have been asking for’.
Time will tell whether the move will pay off on the Island, as it clearly does elsewhere.
Readers can be assured that whatever our competitors do the Isle of Wight Observer newspaper will remain free of charge both printed and on-line.