Only a minority prepared to pay for online content

LONDON - Less than a third of consumers would be willing to pay for online news content on News International's The Sun, The News of the World and The Times, according to a survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers.

Three-quarters of respondents to's survey said that The Times, The Sun and The News of the World do not produce enough exclusive content to make it worth paying for, while every person asked said they would not pay for celebrity gossip or sport.

The survey into consumer attitudes to paid content follows last week's announcement from News Corporation chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch that his company will charge users to access its news websites in the UK, US and Australia from next year.

News International also unveiled plans for a standalone Sunday Times website for which it also plans to charge.

Of the company's UK papers The Times came off best in the survey as 21% of respondents said they thought the paper produced exclusive content.

However, only 4% said the same of the News of the World and not one said they thought The Sun offered anything they would not be able to find elsewhere on the internet.

Of all the content currently offered online 28% of the survey's respondents said they would pay to read articles by columnists and 13% would pay for access to exclusive interviews.

MediaBlog, an independent website run by a group of UK media commentators and bloggers, also reported that 44% of people agreed, when asked, that newspapers will never successfully charge for online content, readers will simply go elsewhere.

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