Belfast Telegraph to launch £2.50 a week paywall

The Belfast Telegraph is to launch a paywall next month, telling readers ‘real stories are worth paying for.’

In an announcement on the website, readers will be asked to pay £2.50 to read the site, although ‘some content’ will continue to be free to read.

The announcement said: “We have listened to our readers who have told us what is important to them: quality, impartial, trustworthy reporting and journalism on what matters most to the people of Northern Ireland.

“This means we will continue to invest in great journalism, great journalists and writers for our titles. To maintain this quality, we will launch a subscription service on belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

“We hope that you, like we do, will consider this worth paying for.”

The plans are believed to have been in the offing for several months now, and had been widely expected after Independent News and Media was sold to Belgium firm Mediahuis last year.

In an interview with Wan-Ifra last year, the company’s chief digital officer Peter Soetens said: “We are proud that subscriptions across almost all our titles (excluding INM) are now showing growth due to the success of our paywall and digital newsroom strategy.

“Obviously, we are also very proud to welcome INM in the group this year, and we look forward to making a turnaround there as well in 2020.”

Referencing the purchase of INM, he added: “For our company it is a big change because we enter the highly competitive English-speaking market.

“The dynamics in this market are different from our native Dutch-speaking environment, so it will be interesting to learn how we can compete well in a such a market.”

The Belfast market is one of the more competed local news areas of the UK online, with JPIMedia title the News Letter seeing significant growth according to Comscore, and Reach’s first digital-only brand, BelfastLive, now in its fifth year of operation and profitable according to the company.

The BBC in Northern Ireland, according to Comscore, is one of the corporation’s strongest in terms of ‘local’ news audience.

Last week, the Belfast Telegraph appointed Eoin Brannigan as editor, joining from the Irish Daily Star.

He said: “He said: “Being appointed editor-in-chief for Belfast is a huge honour for me, I had a fantastic time at The Irish Daily Star but I am excited to be joining INM and excited about working with some of the best journalists in Northern Ireland.

“The Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life have long traditions of outstanding journalism and I am proud that I will be part of the next exciting chapter both online and in print.”

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