N.Y. Times to charge for some Web content

The New York Times said yesterday that it would begin charging users for some content on its Web site in 2011, the newspaper’s second try in four years to make online readers pay amid slumping circulation and advertising sales.

The publisher said it would give users free access to a set number of articles a month on NYTimes.com and charge a fee for further reading. Subscribers to the New York Times print edition will not be charged for Web access.

The Times did not disclose how many articles will be available for free or what it will charge to read more.

The move is aimed at drawing more revenue online, but it risks driving away advertisers that want the biggest possible audience. The potential pitfalls have made most other major newspapers hesitant to take a similar step.

But after months of deliberation, the Times said, it decided on the metered system.

“A metered model is a good option for them because you can still bring casual readers in to the front page, but you can monetize the dedicated readers,” Barry L. Lucas, a Gabelli & Co. Inc. analyst. “They’ve needed to do this for a long time because they’ve been giving away their content.”

The Times tried fees for some opinion and editorial content in a service called Times Select in 2006-07. At its peak, Times Select claimed 200,000 paying customers and had $10 million in revenue.

The company’s ad revenue dropped 27 percent in the third quarter or 2009.

MediaNews Group Inc. said in November that it planned to charge for some news content on Web sites for its Enterprise-Record in Chico, Calif., and Daily Record in York, Pa.

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