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A message from the Mail for The Times, struggling with its paywall

Nobody knows the exact figures yet but it looks as though Rupert Murdoch’s The Times is losing its battle to turn a not very successful free online newspaper into a paywall-financed profitable online newspaper.

Essentially readers are deserting in droves with less than five per cent of previous (free) readers choosing to fork out to be subscribers to The Times and Sunday Times.

Someone who knows about these things is Peter Preston, the long-time editor of the Guardian and the man who, presumably, said yes to Guardian Unlimited, the paper’s huge and resolutely unprofitable web site.

Guardian online, as it now is, turns over about £38m in ad revenue but a third of this comes from its dating service. Well so what, you ask, it must make money on £38m. Apparently not, alas.

Preston reports here how the Daily Mail appears to be confounding the odds, running a completely different product from the main paper under coming man Martin Clarke, which gets 40m readers a month. Many from the United States.

And it seems to be turning these big numbers into money.

Mail editor Paul Dacre famously described the internet once as ‘bullshit.com.’ But 40m readers is a lot of bullshit and there’s money in there somewhere.

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