Starting on Tuesday, people who don’t have a full print subscription to the Times-Dispatch will be asked to pay about $21 a month to read more than 20 articles a month.
Meanwhile, the company is selling a 7-day print subscription that includes unlimited online access for $19. People with current weekend only and other non 7-day subscriptions will also have to pay $19 a month to get full digital access.
The actual cost of the digital-only subscription is buried in the fine print under an introductory offer of $10-a-month for three months.
On its face, the change looks like an attempt to boost the paper’s print circulation, from which most newspapers still derive the bulk of their advertising revenues.
Here’s T-D publisher Tom Silvestri’s letter about the metered pay wall with all the confusing mumbo jumbo stripped out:
Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 29, non-subscribers will be limited to 20 articles per 30-day period on our website and mobile website.
Only news and editorial content produced by the Richmond Times-Dispatch counts against the limit.
Advertising content (such as Classifieds), wire service reports (such as The Associated Press), videos and obituaries will remain free on our sites. Pages that feature lists of articles, such as the home page of TimesDispatch.com, also do not count.
Silvestri also announced a forthcoming price increase for current print subscribers. In the metro area, a yearly subscription currently runs closer to $18 a month. Somewhat oddly, Silvestri attributes the need for the price increase at least partly to the reintroduction of new sections and color pages the paper was bragging about just two weeks ago:
A bit more on pricing. We’ve held off any increase in subscription prices for several years. For our prized seven-day print subscribers, that will change in 2014 when we will install a comparatively small increase to cover projected higher costs, some of which result from this month’s rollout of new sections and added pages.