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Times celebrates disappearing readers

Total's not to be sniffed at though

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The Times and The Sunday Times have given a limited peek behind their respective paywalls.

News International said its websites have 105,000 paid-for subscribers, around half of whom are monthly subscribers. This figure includes subscribers to the site as well as those accessing it through iPad or Kindle apps.

There are also 100,000 print subscribers who have activated their bundled digital account. Assuming some duplication, the papers reckon this gives them a paying digital audience of about 200,000. Back in January 2009 the sites were pulling in 22.9 million monthly users.

News International's Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks said: "We are very pleased by the response... These figures very clearly show that large numbers of people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats. It is early days but renewal rates are encouraging."

The company said many of the early UK adopters "are relatively affluent and engage with the products frequently. There is a particularly high level of engagement among those have downloaded the app."

The sites cost £1 a day or £2 a week to access. Readers can also get a month's access for just £1 as part of the introductory marketing push. Seven day subscribers to the dead tree editions get free access to the websites.

Getting The Times readers to fish out their wallets might not be impossible, but Rupert Murdoch has also promised to make readers of The Sun cough up to look at its website, which might be a little tougher. Murdoch moved The News of the World behind a paywall just over two weeks ago. ®

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