TV news paywalls are coming

A pedestrian stops to watch a news report outside the ABC News studios in Times Square on April 18, 2012 in New York City.

Never paid for local TV news?  Well, that may be changing.  Cincinnati’s  WCPO-TV is going to offer local investigative stories behind a paywall.  It’s added 30 digital staffers.

“What they’re saying is, don’t think of us as TV, think of us as your best local digital news source,” says Ken Doctor, a media consultant.

The way WCPO-TV sees it, it’s go digital and dominate -- or die.  Adam Symson, who is chief digital officer for the station's owner, E.W. Scripps, says Cincinnati’s many TV and radio stations won’t all survive.  Symson is hoping a beefed up web presence will ensure market dominance.

“This is not just an investment in growing a digital audience,” he says. “This is an investment in the brand, WCPO, the television ratings and the digital audience.”

The question is, will people pay for something they’re used to getting for free? Other TV stations are watching WCPO’s web experiment closely, to find out.  

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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