Social media giant Facebook has announced plans to launch a new subscription-based news product. Speaking at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in New York, the company’s head of news partnership Campbell Brown said initial tests would begin in October.
"One of the things we heard in our initial meetings from many newspapers and digital publishers is that 'we want a subscription product -- we want to be able to see a paywall in Facebook,'" Brown said. "And that is something we're doing now. We are launching a subscription product."
The timing of the news is noteworthy. It was less than two weeks ago that several prominent publishers, nearly 2,000 in total, came together to form the trade organization ‘The News Media Alliance.’ They are pushing Congress for a limited antitrust exemption to negotiate with online aggregation sites like Facebook and Google.
Newspaper publishers have blamed online aggregators for declining subscriber numbers and lower advertising revenue. Brown says the new product is aimed at appeasing these news organizations that complain they have little control over their articles on sites like Facebook and Google. She also revealed the company was already in "early talks" with several publishers.
The feature’s paywall will make access to those publishers’ content subscription-only after users have accessed 10 articles, according to The Street. The payment process is still being worked out, but If publishers are pleased with test results, the program could be expanded in 2018.
“I will be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism and contribute value to their businesses. That also means making sure there is ongoing feedback from publishers as Facebook develops new products and tools for news organizations,” Brown said.
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