'Spectator' to charge for magazine content online

The Spectator is to start charging for magazine content viewed online. The move comes following a drop in circulation of the political weekly magazine by 2.5 per cent in the first six months of 2009.

The site's well-regarded political Coffee House Blog will remain free, as will other online content that does not appear in the print version.

To read magazine content online, without subscribing to the hard copy, users will now have to take out an annual digital subscription of £67.50. Magazine subscription at either £12 for 12 issues or £135 annually also includes access to all content online.

The publication which boasts 300,000 unique users a month online.

Andrew Neil, the chairman of Press Holdings, which owns The Spectator, said: "The idea of a magazine or newspaper giving away its content for free over the internet was never particularly logical, but the industry was feeling its way in a new market. The Spectator has now agreed a clear business model, online and offline."

He added: "Our website is profitable within its own right, through advertisers and sponsors, and its bespoke online content will remain free. But the magazine is a distinct entity and has to be paid for; we are asking those who want to read its superb content to pay for it and we have come up with a variety of ways in which they can do so."

The decision comes amid discussions by major national newspapers over whether or not to charge for content online.