's paywall came into effect at the beginning
of this month. As newspaper websites give away news for free, and the world and his dog are on-line, many pundits regard this trend as inevitable. The Sun
has one of the largest circulations
in the world, in spite of the formerly free on-line service. There are reasons for this, one is that while you can put a newspaper in your pocket, you can't really do that with the on-line version. Well, you can, but reading a tabloid on a telephone is not quite the same thing. Surprisingly, more people read the actual newspaper than on-line, even though the latter is (or rather was) available to the whole world, while the hard copy is not.
Some people are predicting newspaper revenues will continue to fall, paywalls or not
. Can this trend be reversed, and if so, how? Here is a revolutionary idea.
The following figures may or may not be accurate, but last year, the Sun
retailed for 40p, which gave newsagents
a profit of 9-10p per copy.
Now, let us supposed that instead of a paywall, the British Government ordered the Bank of England to deposit 10p to the paper's account for every on-line UK reader in appreciation of the wealth it had generated...Where would this money come from? The same place the commercial banks get the money they "lend", out of thin air.
Better still, let us apply this principle to the entire Internet. For example, a first class stamp in the UK costs 60p. Sending an e-mail costs nothing. Granted, there are capital costs, for your computer, etc, and a monthly cost for your ISP, but if you sent only 3 e-mails a day, the equivalent would cost you over £650 a year. Now consider instead a company that sends out one mailshot to 10,000 customers per month; the capital investment will be recouped by the very first on-line mailshot. So what if the Bank of England were instructed to pay the big Internet companies a penny or even a fraction of a penny for every e-mail their customers sent?
Further discussion of the rationale for this principle can be found here
. The bottom line is that an increase in wealth (e-goods and services in this case) warrants an increase in the money supply, and as these are provided free, so should the money too.