The head of Germany's news magazine Der Spiegel has said he sees no point whatsoever in erecting a paywall for the successful online edition of the weekly publication. The enterprise has so far remained in the black.
Der Spiegel chief Wolfgang Büchner (pictured) said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper he didn't want to make readers pay for his magazine's online edition.
"I don't think much of the idea of putting a price on Spiegel Online either partly or as a whole," he said, expressing general skepticism over online payment models adopted by leading print outlets to curb a decline in hard copy sales.
Büchner explained he needed the online content first and foremost as a tool to draw attention to the print magazine as the Hamburg-based investigative news enterprise struggled to protect its flagship product.
Growing digital competition
Paid circulation decreased from 900,000 in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 843,000 in the final quarter of last year.
Büchner fears paywalls in Germany would remain unprofitable for private media companies because of the competitive edge held by public broadcasters, which receive taxpayer support and can afford to make their content available for free online.
Even without a fee charged for reading Spiegel.de, the business is still in the black thanks to advertising revenue coming from a large readership and extensive website page views.
Büchner's comments on paywalls came shortly after media reports that the English-language section of Spiegel Online would be significantly curtailed because of financial constraints.
hg/mkg (dpa, epd)