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British newspapers unveil pay-for websites

The Times and Sunday Times newspapers unveiled Tuesday their new-look websites as they prepare to become the first in Britain to charge online readers for content.

Readers who register will be able to access the websites for free until late June, after which they must pay one pound (1.4 dollars, 1.2 euros) for the daily Times, and two pounds for a week's subscription.

The new websites - www.thetimes.co.uk and www.thesundaytimes.co.uk - replace the single timesonline.co.uk site for the two papers, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

"We're taking a big step.... In recent years information and news has been free on the Internet," said Times editor James Harding.

"Our feeling is that it is time to stop giving away our journalism, and that's because we feel that we are undermining the value of our journalism," he told BBC radio.

With newspaper sales in decline and advertising increasingly moving online, owners have been searching for a business model that will make profits from their websites.

Murdoch announced last August plans to charge for online content from all his newspapers. The Times and Sunday Times move makes them the first British titles with a paywall for all their content rather than for selected articles.

The Financial Times already makes readers pay for some online content, while the Wall Street Journal - also part of Murdoch's media empire - is currently the only major US newspaper charging readers for full access online.

The New York Times announced in January that it would start charging for online content in early 2011.

The US-based Christian Science Monitor has gone one step further towards embracing the Internet, dispensing with its daily print version in favour of a daily online edition and a weekly print version.