The way to charge for digitally delivered content is a prime topic on the minds of the newspaper publishers meeting in San Diego this week to contemplate the future of their badly battered industry.
Even if charging for online or mobile content is not publicly discussed at the annual meeting of the Newspaper Association of America, participants have confirmed that significant private talks on the subject are taking place among several of the chief executives convened at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The under-the-radar discussions include a sit-down among several CEOs – held quite separately from the convention under the guidance of a lawyer to ensure the talks don’t stray into inappropriate territory – that would be similar to a confab where many of the same leaders discussed the industry’s challenges in January, 2007. Despite the deterioration of the newspaper business in the intervening time, no similar session has been held since then.
In addition to discussing whether and how to charge for the expensively produced content that today is available for free at most newspaper websites, publishers familiar with the agenda for the private session said other topics were:
:: How to recover some of the classified advertising business that has been usurped by Craig’s List and others.
:: Whether to demand payment from aggregators who now freely link to content from their sites.
:: How newspapers might get a greater share of the $10.8 billion in search revenues that represented 46% of all U.S. online advertising revenues in 2008.