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Users to pay £2 a week to read Times online

Customers will be charged £2 a week to read The Times and The Sunday Times online from June, News International announced today.

Both titles will launch new websites in early May, separating their digital presence for the first time and replacing the existing combined site, Times Online.

The sites will be available for a free trial period to registered customers, the company said.

From June, customers will be able to view www.thetimes.co.uk and www.thesundaytimes.co.uk, for a charge of £1 for a day's access or £2 for a week's subscription.

Payment will give readers access to both sites. The weekly subscription will also give access certain new applications.

Access to the digital services will be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers to The Times and The Sunday Times.

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks said: "At a defining moment for journalism, this is a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition.

"We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value.

"This is just the start. The Times and The Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach."

Writing today in The Sun, veteran BBC broadcaster John Humphrys backed the move to charge readers for online content.

He said: "Good journalism has to be paid for, just as we have to pay for the plumber who fixes a leak, or it will not survive,

"And let's be clear: we have the best papers in the world. Full stop. I want to keep it that way."

He added: "You might expect me to worry more about the survival of the BBC but, love and respect it though I do, newspapers matter even more to a robust system of democracy."

Have your say: Will News International's plan work? Would you pay for online news content or should newspapers remain free online?