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Canadians Don't Want To Pay For Online News, In Bad Sign For Media

Not what you want to hear if you have a subscription-based business model.

Why pay for something when you can get it for free?

Apparently, that's the mentality most Canadians have about their news, according to new study by Vancouver-based Research Co.

Nearly half of Canadians (47 per cent) don't visit any news sources that charge for online access, and 31 per cent stop going to online news sources once they've hit a paywall or free article limit. Fewer than 1 in 10 (9 per cent) are actually paying to read the news online.

Older Canadians are less willing to pay for online news than the younger generation. More than half of Canadians 55 and older (56 per cent) don't visit sites that charge for online access, compared to 41 per cent of Canadians in both the 18–34 and 35–54 age groups.

And they're not looking for print sources, either. Fewer than 1 in 10 Canadians pick up a hard copy of a national newspaper every day, with 3 in 5 (60 per cent) saying they never reach for one. More Canadians pick up local newspapers— 13 per cent daily, 14 per cent a few times a week, and 23 per cent a few times a month.

A problem for business and smaller cities

Many Canadian newspapers such as The Globe and Mail, National Post, and most recently, the Toronto Star, have a subscription-based model that charges readers for online access after they've read a certain number of articles for free in a month.

The decline of local newspapers is a problem not just for the news business, but for smaller communities that cannot rely on national news outlets which may or may not have a presence there. Falling revenues leading to job cuts and newspaper closures have also plagued several larger organizations across the country.

However, most Canadians support a federal government proposal to invest $50 million over five years to support independent organizations that deliver local journalism. Nearly 4 in 10 (39 per cent) somewhat support the idea, and 17 per cent strongly support it.

Results of the study were based on an online study conducted May 7–11, 2018, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

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