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The New York Times has confirmed widespread reports that it is to start charging for access to its website.

As we reported Monday, readers will get free access to a certain number of stories before being hassled into paying up.

But don't panic just yet - despite considering the move for over a year the paywall will not actually be up and running until 2011.

Part of the reason for this long delay is that the NYT is creating its own platform rather than going with Journalism Online or working with arch enemy Rupert Murdoch - who has promised to charge for all News International's online content by the summer.

Arthur Sulzberger Junior, chairman and publisher of the New York Times told The New York Times: “This announcement allows us to begin the thought process that’s going to answer so many of the questions that we all care about. We can’t get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right.”

Of course the NYT used to charge for its content and only stopped doing so in 2007. Execs said discussions had been going on for almost a year and were not a reaction to the downturn in advertising spending.

The paper refused to give any figures for likely revenue, numbers of subscribers, page impressions or lost readers the changes might bring.

Nor did the official confirmation make any reference to Apple - the original story linked the paper to next week's launch of Apple's iSlate/iTablet/portable reader thing. ®

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