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Financial news must pay for itself

FT.com website goes part-paid-for

The Financial Times today announced it would charge up to £200 a year for access to its website, www.ft.com, from next month.

The move could be an attempt to raise vital capital. FT.com cut 40 of its 350 online positions in spring last year and it is undeniable that the extra income would take some pressure off its beleagured online division.

Services such as latest news and opinion pieces (the comment section) will remain free, but users will have to pay to access other areas, such as the Lex comment column and archived stories and services.

"Since I became editor six months ago I have lost count of the number of times business leaders have praised FT.com," boasted Andrew Gowers, editor of the Financial Times. He said these changes would make the FT "even better". Whether it will make it even richer remains to be seen.

Subscription services have become popular over the past year or so, with music-swap sites starting the trend.

"Over the next few months we will see a lot of subscription-based services being offered," said a spokesman at BT, which launched its subscription music service last September.

"People have told us they want to select their own content," said BT's spokesman. "And are happy to pay for what they want."

The Financial Times' two-tiered package will allow users to choose from limited access for £75 a year or full access for £200.

FT.com is one of the most popular newspaper websites with monthly user figures reaching 2.7 million.

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