Johnston Press and the plucky pay-wall pilot

According to holdthefrontpage.co.uk, Johnston Press – owner of the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post in the UK – intends to pilot a pay-wall for a small number of its local titles as early as next week.

If that’s the case, then this is one experiment whose outcome will be eagerly anticipated by many media industry watchers.

Media planners, ad agencies and advertisers – in particular – will no doubt watch with baited breath to see if consumers will cough up for content that, until now, had been freely available online or – even more traditionally – from the news-stand,  local newsagent or delivered through the door.

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Man bites dogma – Round Two

The comment added by BSkyB’s David Wheeldon to the ‘Man bites dogma’ Pay Per View (PPV) post sparked something of a surge to the blog yesterday.

David’s comments draw attention to the dilemma facing publishing and content producers: How an earth do we monetize and protect the distribution of content when free access has become ubiquitous with the advance of the web?

In many respects the debate isn’t about monetization of content but of its distribution. That’s because technology has turned traditional distribution models inside out and, ironically, media brands have been an active participant in this revolution. The net effect (no pun intended) is the distinct prospect that it is the owners of distribution technology, and not the providers of the content, that will seize the lions share of the ‘value chain’.

Today’s media owners will become disintermediated themselves; they will lose the power to monetize content distribution and be subject to distribution by new participants with new models of distribution – like Google.

The Guardian’s Media Talk podcasts in both the UK and US have served up some interesting debates in recent weeks.This link to Media Talk UK discusses the potential introduction of a ‘paywall’ at Sunday Times, while its US cousin Media Talk US digs into the issue of a potential content cartel in the US.

Today, you can link and listen free of charge. In future, you may not. And that’s why this debate is going to roll and roll…