Leading UK broadsheet The Times will launch its first electronic edition at the end of this month, although the publication will not be available in the UK due to audit constraints.

The e-paper will be designed to have the same look and feel as the printed publication and will contain full content from the paper and its supplements. Browsers will be able to use quick search facilities and enlarge articles or adverts as they read.

Both The Times and The Daily Telegraph, which has also announced plans to launch an e-paper this year, are reported to be calling for the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), the UK's main publishing auditor, to include digital editions in sales figures.

Times Online has announced that the publication will not be available to UK subscribers until ABC includes e-paper circulation with print sales, according to Annelies van den Belt, digital director for Times Online.

"Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before the ABC changes its policy. The newspaper industry has already recognised the potential of e-papers and their ability to reach a worldwide audience and, in time, with more publications launching online, the ABC will be forced to take notice," she said.

Overseas subscribers to www.timesonline.co.uk will receive the e-paper as part of their web package, currently £39.99 per year, while new subscribers can sign up for £49.99. The full price of the new e-paper service will be £75.

"Times Online is performing very well in terms of overseas subscribers, which is why the e-paper is being introduced. We would like our overseas audience to benefit from being able to read the Times newspaper on the day of publication on their screen," Ms van den Belt told dotJournalism.

"We anticipate a high uptake since the subscription cost represents a large saving above buying the newspaper each day, and also offers a wider and more convenient service. We are confident that we will be able to triple the digital circulation within the next twelve months," she said.

The Guardian and Financial Times are also expected to announce e-papers later in the year, which will place more pressure on ABC to include digital publications within print sales. Circulation audits in many other countries, including the US, already combine figures for print and digital newspapers.

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