British daily broadsheet The Independent this week launched a subscription payment service for some of its online content.

Christened the Independent Portfolio, the new service allows subscribers to purchase single articles or subscribe on a monthly or annual basis to a tailored selection of content from the Independent's news and sports archive, crosswords, and columnists including Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.

Prices range from just £1 (for 24-hour access to one item) to £60 for an annual subscription to all Portfolio content.

The micropayment technology is being handled by British Telecom's BTClick&Buy system with around 25 per cent of the fees being taken in commission. Payments can be made by direct debit, debit/credit card or added to a subscriber's BT phone bill.

In an interview with, Independent Digital managing director Richard Withey said: "It is sensible to start educating people that content is not actually free; somebody, somewhere has a cost of producing it.

"We do think there is a value to some of our columnists and crosswords and people would pay for that, providing the process is easy for them."

The Independent web site gets about 20 million page views a month from more than a million unique users.


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