News Corp Unveils Paid-for Times & Sunday Times

The very British Times and Sunday Times have been given a major overhaul ahead of their impending transition from being free to paid-for entities that charge £1 a day to read their content.

News International reckons that the overwhelming majority of its current audience will wither away leaving only a fraction of its traffic - 21 million unique visitors at the last count - to sustain the website's operations.

BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones notes, with a hint of skepticism, that the new Times and Sunday Times will be very different from their current incarnation. No more search engine spiders crawling, a more controlled commenting system and a singular lack of social networking features.

News stories from both news websites will be removed from news aggregating services such as Techmeme, Slashdot or Google News as News International adopts an extreme version of the Paywall concept.

Executives at the newspaper explain the move that quality journalism is expensive to produce and maintain and that it is better to aim for quality rather than quantity when it comes to subscriptions and pitching to advertisers.

However, in the virtual land of free, arguments to justify charging up to £104 per year for quality journalism are thin especially when so many rivals propose equally good content for nothing.