He’s finally done it! As reported on another TM Forum blog some months ago Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper in the UK is about to impose charges for those wishing to access its publication via the internet. Some reports have tagged this as ‘Rupert’s paywall’.

From June this year, users will be asked to pay £1 per day, or £2 per week, to access the Times and the Sunday Times. From May the existing Times Online site, which merges content from the two newspapers, will be replaced by separate sites. One would have thought the initial price-point may have been a lot lower than the print version to attract customers, or at least provide a low-cost subscription model.

There is no doubt that other publishers will follow suit if Murdoch’s bold move is successful but they may need to jump in early, and in unison as a united front, to ensure it is successful. No doubt, some will resist charging for as long as possible to capture their competitor’s readers. However, with the constant decline in print circulation and print advertising revenues, they will have to work out how to make money from their electronic versions sooner, rather than later.

The Murdoch flagships certainly have their fair share of big-name columnists to provide a unique spin on current events but readers are not quite used to paying for online content, despite being happy to pay for a newspaper.

It also appears that Mr Murdoch is not alone in attempting to monetize online and mobile device content. Two other UK newspapers are trying variations on the theme. The Financial Times which already charges for online premium content via subscription, is pinning some hope on the popularity of Apple’s recently launched iPad. An iPad application that will be sponsored initially by Hublot, the watchmaker, will subsidize a two-month free access period but then revert to the standard subscription fee after et first ten articles have been accessed. Hopefully, for FT, you’ll be hooked by then.

Even The Guardian, that offers a one-off £2.39 iPhone app that gives users unlimited free news, is viewing a recurring revenue model based on monthly subscription. The Guardian’s iPhone app has been well received, clocking 101,457 downloads between its launch on December, 2009, and February, 2010. Just how it will convince readers to move to a paid subscription after getting the latest news for free remains to be seen. It, too, may see the iPad as the premium delivery platform moving forward.

Unlike the internet, mobile apps and content don’t have a pre-existing culture of being provided free all the time. Clearly, publishers are bullish about the ability to charge on mobile devices but shouldn’t they thank mobile operators, in part, for instilling this culture early on? Whichever way you look at it, and judging from the positive comments on the iPad already, content to mobile devices will be delivered almost exclusively via wireless means. Only thing the operators have to do, once again, is work out how to capitalize on that.