No paywall expected for Scotsman website

THE websites of newspapers owned by Johnston Press, such as The Scotsman, will not be going behind a ‘paywall’, according to reports of comments made by the company’s chief executive.

Ashley Highfield is widely quoted saying that, instead of paywalls, the target is to substantially increase the amount of advertising revenue generated online, backed by paid-for apps for tablet devices (such as that introduced for The Scotsman in January).

Ashfield was speaking at a conference about the media being staged by The Guardian newspaper.

He is quoted by The Guardian, as saying: “The danger with content behind a paywall as News International did is that it is not indexed [on internet search engines such as Google], you then fall off the social graph and then no one cares what the [News International] Times says.”

Adds the paper: “Highfield, who formerly worked at Microsoft and the BBC, also said that his plan is for each of Johnston Press’s 255 titles to derive 20 per cent to 25 per cent of advertising revenue from digital within three years.

“Currently, just five per cent of Johnston Press’s total revenues, which include non-advertising sources such as circulation income, comes from digital.”

Highfield’s reported comments echo a presentation he gave staff at The Scotsman HQ, home also of Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News, on Monday.

In December, details were announced of a partial paywall for The Herald website.