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News Corp to start Australian paywall
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Oct 20, 2011


Amazon to start Japan ebook business: reports
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 20, 2011 - US online giant Amazon will start a Japanese-language ebook business as early as this year, the Nikkei business daily and Jiji press said Thursday.

The company, which already has a strong retail presence in Japan, is in the final stages of talks with major Japanese publishers, the Nikkei said.

Amazon is also considering a launch of its Kindle reader for Japanese customers, the Nikkei said.

The company was hoping to start the business in time for the Christmas sales season, Jiji said.

Amazon's Japanese representatives declined to comment on the report.

Japanese publishers have been reluctant to provide content to Amazon over concerns that the retailer will sell ebooks at bargain prices, the Nikkei said.

The US firm however appears to be making headway in negotiations by proposing a framework in which the timing and scope of price cuts would be discussed with publishers in advance, the business daily said.

Despite the buzz about ebooks in the rest of the world, Japan has failed to develop the sector so far, offering only a limited number of book titles with several competing technological standards.

The Japanese ebook market was estimated at 65 billion yen ($846 million) in the year to March 2011, compared with roughly two trillion yen for printed books and magazines, according to the Nikkei.

The Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation will begin charging for online content, the firm said Thursday, with its flagship national broadsheet to move behind a paywall from next week.

News Limited said The Australian newspaper would start charging for Internet content via a new "digital pass" system, which would kick off Monday with a three-month free trial period.

Describing it as a "freemium" model with a mix of free and subscription-only material, The Australian's CEO Richard Freudenstein said the digital pass would allow readers to log in across computer, tablet and mobile platforms.

Weekly access to the newspaper's web and mobile sites, iPad and Android apps would cost Aus$2.95 (US$3), with a six-day print subscription tacked on for Aus$7.95 or a weekend newspaper add-on costing Aus$4.50.

It will be Murdoch's first Australian publication to go behind a paywall and only the second in the nation, following the lead of business-focussed daily The Australian Financial Review, run by rival firm Fairfax Media.

The mogul is a dominant media player in Australia, his home country and the birthplace of his News Corp empire, owning two-thirds of the nation's newspapers.

News Limited chief John Hartigan said it was an "incredible milestone in Australian journalism" and the paywall would "pioneer the way Australians consume media".

"All of our research and all the indications are that people will pay for great journalism," Hartigan said in a memo to staff.

"The Australians premium digital service is part of how we see the future of journalism. I am confident that premium digital subscription services will be successful in Australia."

The Australian will join a "distinguished group" of News Corp titles with subscription-only content including Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Sunday Times of London and New York Post, he added.

Though it is yet to make any official announcement, Fairfax has also flagged a "nuanced" paywall strategy, describing it as a necessary part of its evolution beyond classifieds and advertising revenues.

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