Saturday, May 30, 2009

Newspaper Publishers Hold secret confab on charging for web content

Two dozen newspaper publishers, including representatives from the New York Times. Gannett, E. W. Scripps, Advance Publications, McClatchy, Hearst Newspapers, MediaNews Group, the Associated Press, Philadelphia Media Holdings, Lee Enterprises and Freedom Communications, quietly attended the Newspaper Association of America's annual meeting in Chicago this week to discuss ways of charging readers for online content. Called the "Models to Monetize Content" conference, the event was organized by the Newspaper Association of America, though it was not listed on its website.

Why so hush-hush? It's because they're worried about possible antitrust violations. Observers point out out that an industry gathering to discuss setting up paywalls could have the appearance of an illegal cartel. Newspapers would like an antitrust exemption to build up paywalls across their sites and fashion some industry guidelines.

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