Murdoch launches £50 a year Times club

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The Independent Online

News International has launched a paid membership scheme connected to its Times newspaper titles, as the latest bid to combat the decline in industry revenues by targeting new revenue streams.

The group, headed by Rupert Murdoch, yesterday launched Times+ which provides members with access to special events, offers and meetings with the titles’ journalists for £50 a year. Subscribers to the newspapers will not be charged.

Katie Vanneck-Smith, managing director of News International’s Customer Direct division, said the scheme gave the group “the opportunity to redefine further our relationship with our readers and to reward their loyalty”.

She added that the Times titles were moving away from the strategy was to move from bringing in as many readers as possible – “away from the traditional model of volume” – in favour of “developing more direct relationships with our customers based on their interests and passions”.

This follows the success of Culture+, which has attracted 90,000 members since its launch last year. It will be combined with the new Times+ scheme. Another addition is Travel+, which will offer deals on holidays.

This is the latest move by chief executive Rupert Murdoch to lift revenues as the newspaper industry has faced the worst decline in advertising revenues in living memory.

Earlier this year, Mr Murdoch announced that the newspapers were likely to be charging for online content some time next year.