LONDON (Brand Republic) - UK media group Pearson is understood to be considering the introduction of a subscription fee for its Financial Times website, FT.com.
Executives at Pearson are said to be examining a number of options for charging for content on the site, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
It is likely that some content will continue to be free but access to archive material and other premium content will be via an annual subscription charge or individual per-article payments.
The move is further recognition that online advertising alone can not provide sufficient revenue to recoup the huge investments being made by groups such as Pearson and sustain the continued growth of online developments.
The decision sees Pearson follow in the footsteps of its rival The Wall Street Journal, which began charging for access to its WSJ.com site several years ago.
Although not yet profitable, The Wall Street Journal website currently has around 500,000 subscribers who pay an annual subscription charge of $59 (£40). Subscribers to the paper are offered a discounted rate of $29 (£19.70).
A spokesman for Pearson said, “We are not looking at a straight subscription model. The key point here is that there will still be a core of free news and analysis.”
FT.com was relaunched last year and has been pushed heavily in the United States. It currently attracts around 1.7m unique monthly users -- a figure that is significantly up on the 1m unique monthly users it was attracting during the same period last year.
The case for subscription charges is rapidly gaining support as media owners seek a way to turn a profit online. In the US, media site Inside.com has been charging since it launched last year.
In the UK The Economist, which is half-owned by Pearson, already charges for online access, and financial analysis website BreakingViews.com is introducing a subscription charge.