German media giant moves to make money online

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Germany's Axel Springer on Wednesday became the latest media giant to announce moves to try and make more money online after years of the Internet eating away at their revenues.

Springer, active in 35 countries with over 170 newspaper and magazines titles, announced the launch of iPhone applications with monthly subscription fees for its two biggest national German newspapers, Bild and Die Welt.

The company also plans to have readers pay for local content on the websites of two its its regional papers, Hamburger Abendblatt and Berliner Morgenpost, a spokesman told AFP. Further details were due next week.

With the iPhone "apps", users can read the print issues of Bild and a compact version of Die Welt in PDF format the evening before they hit news-stands, the company said in a statement.

Convinced a decade ago that websites supported by advertising were the future, publishers raced to make content freely available online in the hope of a new revenue windfall that never materialised.

Users, the vast majority of them guided by Internet search engines like Google, viewed snatches of their content but did not linger, and advertisers soon realised that their budgets would be better spent elsewhere.

Newspaper owners have started to fight back, with News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch planning to make online users pay for more of what they read online and threatening Google to block it from indexing his titles.

Murdoch said in Washington last week that newspapers "need to do a better job of persuading consumers that high quality reliable news and information does not come free."

"Good journalism is an expensive commodity," he said.