Spain's El Mundo to launch paid news Internet application

Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo said Thursday it would launch a paid news application for the Internet and smartphones like Apple's iPhone next week but would keep access to its website free.

The new application called Orbyt (www.orbyt.es) will from Monday provide subscribers with full access to the paper edition of El Mundo as well as a range of other services including archives, video reports and news commentary.

It will cost 14.99 euros (20.50 dollars) per month or 60 euro cents per day, said El Mundo director Pedro Ramirez, who added an application was under development as well for Apple's soon-to-be-released iPad tablet computer.

The centre-right newspaper, controlled by Italy's top publisher RCS MediaGroup which also publishes Italy's biggest-selling daily, Corriere della Sera, will become the first major Spanish daily with a paid news application.

El Mundo will continue to provide free access to the content of its website (www.elmundo.es) which is the world's most visited Spanish-language media website, drawing visitors from Spain as well as across Latin America.

The site, which is frequently updated by a team of 20 journalists and which publishes shorter versions of articles from the paper edition, received nearly 24 million unique visitors in January, El Mundo's assistant director Inaki Gil told AFP.

This model of free access financed by advertising also pursueed by other major Spanish dailies like El Pais and La Vanguardia must be complemented by paid products that "add value," El Mundo said.

Like other newspapers across Europe, El Mundo has been looking for new ways to make money as it struggles with a decline in print advertising revenue and newsstand sales and a challenge from free news online.

Ramirez said El Mundo's new paid news application could be transformed into an "electronic kiosk" that provides content from other newspapers.

Milan-based RCS MediaGroup also publishes Expansion, Spain's leading business daily, and Marca, a Spanish sports daily, as well as La Gazzetta dello Sport, the nationwide leader in Italy for sports information.

It also does business also in magazines, radio, and television broadcasting.

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