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The Globe to roll out metered paywall as industry shifts to digital revenue

The Globe and Mail will roll out its digital subscription package on Oct. 22, providing free online access to most print subscribers and allowing casual readers access to 10 articles a month on its website.

The newspaper announced plans in May to build a metered paywall system, citing the need to boost revenue as the advertising market fluctuates. Publishers across North America have enacted similar plans, largely emboldened by the online success of The New York Times, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.

"Some of the world's largest and most respected media outlets have successfully introduced a similar model, and we look forward to the benefits it will enable us to deliver to our readers and advertisers," said publisher Phillip Crawley.

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Newspapers are trying to compensate for declining print advertising revenue as more spending migrates online. Statistics from the U.S. newspaper industry suggest that for every $7 lost in print ads, papers are only managing to secure $1 in digital revenue.

That has left them to try new approaches to help pay for their journalism. The New York Times has been among the boldest, and analysts now believe that the company will be able to make up a lot of its print losses through digital subscriptions. Not only has it brought in millions of dollars from its 523,000 subscribers, it has led to an increase in its Sunday circulation, as subscribers sign up for bundled deals to gain access to the company's digital products.

"The increase in circulation revenues from the company's digital paywall is now meaningful enough to offset the decline in print advertising," Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar wrote in a note to clients last week. "It is also adding to its Sunday home delivery subscriber base now after many years of decline."

In Canada, Postmedia Network Inc. recently launched paywalls at several of its daily newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Province, with chief executive officer Paul Godfrey saying, "You can't spend millions of dollars on content and just give it away."

The Globe's plan provides unlimited access to both the paper's website and apps to anyone with a five- or six-day subscription to the printed newspaper. Weekend-only subscribers will be asked to pay $4.99 a month for unlimited access, while those without a subscription will be charged $19.99 a month after a one-month, 99-cent trial.

Some components of The Globe's site will continue to be free to everyone – readers will be able to watch an unlimited number of videos, get stock quotes and read letters to the editor. And readers who find stories through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as search engines and blogs won't have those stories count against their monthly cap.

There have also been upgrades to the site, including a new personalization tool called Dashboard, an enhanced Streetwise column and a subscriber-only business commentary service called ROB Insight.

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"This is a very important evolution for The Globe and Mail," Mr. Crawley said. "We've kept changing over the years, and we have a reputation for being willing to take bold steps. This is just part of that same pattern."

(Note to Readers: Effective May 1, 2015, the cost of a Globe Unlimited subscription will increase from $19.99 to $23.99 per month (plus applicable taxes), while the cost of a Globe Unlimited subscription for partial print subscribers will increase from $4.99 to $5.99 per month (plus applicable taxes).  Five and six-day print subscribers will continue to receive Globe Unlimited free with their print subscription.)

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