Newspapers cry out against Apple’s iPad subscription plan

9 Feb 2011

Newspaper publishers across Europe have spoken out following indications by Apple in many European countries that it may bring in new conditions for both online subscribers to newspapers and for print subscribers who read their newspaper on the iPad.

Today, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) called on technology companies to ensure that newspaper subscribers can continue to enjoy access to news content on tablets and other online services without restrictive conditions.

The call comes just a week after global newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch launched his new iPad-only newspaper The Daily in the US. A spokesperson for The Daily told that expansion plans have begun with Australia and Canada, with more countries to follow.

ENPA warns that in future consumers may only have access to the newspaper of their choice via Apple’s iTunes store, where the transaction would be subject to a commission.

They also warn that newspaper publishers would no longer have access to important information about the readers of their digital publications.

Newspapers are still vital engine rooms for content creation

“The print edition of a newspaper remains the engine room creating an incredible range of news and informative content,” said ENPA vice-president and chair of the organisation’s Digital Taskforce Valdo Lehari Jr.

“In the current environment, new online and mobile business models often operate in combination with the print edition,” Lehari Jr said.

ENPA says Apple’s iPad and other tablet devices offer fantastic potential for the development of newspapers in the digital environment. “Publishers today want to provide readers with a range of attractive options, including offers combining access to newspapers online and on tablets, or offers for print subscribers that also allow access to the newspaper on digital formats.”

The association pointed out that the business model of newspapers is dependent on publishers and editors knowing their readers. “It is essential that this close connection is maintained. Without direct access to their subscribers, this vital bond between newspapers and readers would be broken, to the detriment of both.

ENPA added that newspaper publishers should have freedom of choice of payment systems for their readers and the possibility to negotiate pricing levels for their digital publications.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years