Hugh Pickens writes: "Rupert Murdoch announced today that he intends to make access to the Wall Street Journal's Web site free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue. Murdoch's News Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire Dow Jones & Company and the deal is expected to close by the end of the year. The WSJ web site, one of the few news sites to successfully introduce a subscription model, currently has around one million subscribers and generates about $50 million annually in user fees. Murdoch made his decision as paid circulation at major newspapers in the United States continued to decline this year with readership at 609 papers that filed on Sunday falling 3.5% to 46,771,486. With their business model under extreme pressure, publishers have been whittling back on circulation considered to be less useful by advertisers and increasing their internet presence because ad revenue has been increasing. Online advertising now accounts for an average 5.5% of newspapers' total ad revenue and online profits margins have been skyrocketing worldwide with revenue projected to hit 10% of newspapers' total ad revenue by 2008-2009."
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