Major media companies in Slovakia have teamed up for a common online paywall, which they plan to charge a €2.90 monthly flat fee for accessing key sections of their websites, The Irish Times reported.
The unusual alliance, lobbied by a consultancy, is among Slovak television companies and newspaper publishers. They agreed to place their content behind the paywall and charge a small fee for unlimited access to niche areas, including sports, entertainment, video, opinion pieces, archives and anything else considered exclusive. General news will still remain to be free.
A two-week trial and an information campaign began on April 18, and the paywall will be in effect on May 2, The Associated Press reported.
According to a poll last year, about one half of Slovakians opposed to paying for online news, but the two companies behind the project are confident, due to the surprising consensus among the major media in the country. Only a few tabloids decided not to join, the AP reported.
“The most important thing is that all the media now understand that we have to find a way of making people realize that newspapers online cannot be for free,” said Matus Kostolny, the editor-in-chief of SME, one of the participants and the country’s leading broadsheet.
Marian Zima, director of Sport Press SRO, another participant and the publisher of a sport daily, told the AP that all publishers agree that “it is not sustainable in the long term to provide everything for free … We have to make it clear to the public that what we create has a value.”
Tomas Bella, of the Prague-based media consultancy company NextBig, said the initiative would be much like paying a flat fee for all the channels on cable television. “One payment covers all. It’s simple and the sum can hardly be a problem for anyone,” he told AP.
Bella said the model would best suit a small, single-language media market, such as Slovakia.
“It would be impossible to do the same in big countries such as the United States because thousands of media organizations would have to get involved to have the market share that we have,” he added, AP reported.
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