Wall Street Journal to charge mobile readers

NEW YORK Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:49pm EDT

A copy of the Wall Street Journal is seen at an office in New York, July 31, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A copy of the Wall Street Journal is seen at an office in New York, July 31, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Wall Street Journal soon will begin charging people to read the paper on mobile devices such as their BlackBerrys, the paper's owner Rupert Murdoch said on Tuesday.

The move, which News Corp CEO Murdoch announced at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York, is an attempt to find a new way for the business daily to make more money from an increasingly popular way for people to access their news.

The Journal will start charging for mobile access "in one to two months," Murdoch said.

Under the plan, people who do not subscribe to the Journal would pay $2 a week for mobile access, and subscribers would pay $1 per week. Subscribers to both the print and online version of the paper will get mobile for free.

Charging for mobile access is one of the boldest ways yet that a U.S. newspaper has tried to increase revenue, at a time when falling circulation and print advertising revenue is threatening the survival of many newspapers.

The Wall Street Journal is one of the few U.S. newspapers that has successfully charged for access to news on the Internet.

This year, many U.S. newspaper publishers have been debating different ways to get people to pay for news online. It is unclear if any of them will work.

At the Goldman Sachs event, Murdoch said the environment for advertising is "very much better" than three or four months ago -- a view echoed by a number of other industry executives.

He added that the company was mulling options such as subscriptions and pay-per-view for Hulu, the popular online video destination founded by News Corp and NBC Universal, which is majority owned by General Electric.

(Reporting by Robert Macmillan, writing by Franklin Paul; editing by Gunna Dickson and Maureen Bavdek)

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