Gulf News plans to launch online paid subscription model

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Dubai-based daily newspaper Gulf News is no longer offering content for free as it plans to launch an online paid subscription model. 

The news outlet said it is adapting the paywall in line with the international publishing industry. 

“The decision to go behind a paywall and to charge for our online content was taken a while ago. It is no longer for us–or that matter any other news organization–to carry on offering their content for free, while we witness, regionally and globally, an increasing decline in revenues coming in from advertising,” Abdul Hamid Ahmad, CEO, editor-in-chief and executive director of Publishing at Gulf News was quoted as saying by Gulf Business. 

“Yes, it would be possible if the publishing house is supported by the government or by external revenue streams. Without that financial support, nobody can continue without going behind a paywall. This is not a mere trend but a reality that media houses have to accept and are forced to comply with,” he further added. 

This scheme has already been used by various news organizations across the world. Others opted for a model seeking donations from users to ensure that they can continue operations even as advertisement revenues have continued to dwindle, 

Ahmad said that one of the reasons for this is that digital firms Google and Facebook are eating into their revenue streams while ‘cannibalizing’ their content. 

“When it comes to paid content, the sales and advertising industry is always skeptical. In fact, we have seen that despite incredibly high digital traffic, the commensurate revenue has not come in, it has not helped. And this is having an impact on the quality of advertising too. But, I have a positive market outlook when it comes to the paywall, it will work well. Once you have paid subscribers, it will mean a targeted market that advertisers can optimize and utilize more effectively,” he added. 

Though he hasn’t revealed the prices yet, Ahmad said it will be affordable. He said that the platform will offer discounts in the initial period.