Media giant News Corp. is holding talks with other newspaper publishers on forming a consortium that would charge for news online and on portable devices, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.
The newspaper said News Corp.'s chief digital officer, Jonathan Miller, is believed to have met with representatives of The New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., Hearst Corp. and Tribune Co., publisher of The Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Times report comes as newspapers across the United States grapple with a steep plunge in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.
News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said earlier this month he would begin charging readers of online versions of his newspapers in the coming year.
News Corp already charges for its Wall Street Journal website and claims it is the most successful paid news site on the Internet.
Other Murdoch papers include the New York Post, The Times of London, the Sun and The Australian, among others.
Journalism Online, a company launched in April which seeks to help news organizations make money on the Web, announced last week that more than 500 newspapers and magazines have agreed to join the venture as affliliates.
It said a payment platform would go online in the fall which would allow subscribers to access paid content at the websites of the affiliates using a universal Journalism Online account.
"The reality is that unless a lot of people who produce news act in unison to start charging for content, then individually they will fail," Alan Mutter, a former newspaper columnist and editor and consultant on new media ventures, told The Los Angeles Times.
Media analysts have been engaged in a fierce debate over whether readers will be willing to pay for news online after becoming accustomed for so many years to getting what they want for free.
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