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AMEInfo begins to charge for online content

If you discount ISPs, few Internet companies have so far tried to charge end users directly for content. AMEInfo.com/fn aims to change that with a new financial newsletter.

AMEInfo.com/fn, an online financial news and information service, may have become the first Web site in the Middle East to charge end users for content. The business site has just introduced a weekly, online financial news digest that will be priced at $99 per year.

The AME Middle East Financial News Digest is described as an e-mail summary of the region’s top 70-80 financial news stories. It also includes sections covering key stories from the oil and gas, IT and Internet sectors.

“This is a very convenient way of keeping on top of the news,” says Peter Cooper, editor-in-chief, AMEInfo.com/fn

“We are responding to many requests for an independent digest covering the week’s key financial and business stories. It’s all too easy to miss an important development that might hold a big business opportunity. We are making it easy to monitor the flood of business and financial information emanating from the Middle East at a very reasonable cost.”

However, if you discount ISPs, paying for content is not something that Internet users have so far had to do. Instead, the Internet has been like independent TV, where the service is free to air and advertising generates the operator’s revenues. Cooper is convinced, however, that users will be ready to pay for a service that is convenient and useful.

“The idea is to provide a full summary of the weeks news in 70-80 briefs,” he told ITP.net. “Then it is easy to scan to see if you have missed any important item, or just to stay up with events. By providing a newsletter via e-mail people do not have to visit the AME site everyday to keep up with our output, as for less than $1.99 per week we do this work for them.”

AMEInfo’s free weekly newsletter, which has been running for some time, now has 35,000 subscribers, according to the company. “If we could convert 10% of them to a paid-for service over the next six months we would be very happy,” says Cooper.

A further development will be an intranet-based version of the service, which companies broadcast over their own networks to keep their staff fully up to date on local developments. “We expect this to also boost the total circulation,” says Cooper.

AMEInfo.com/fn is a part of AMEInfo.com, a site that targets the region’s business community and is perhaps best known for its directory of around 200,000 regional businesses. The site already resells content to third party Web sites, but this is the first time it has targeted a service directly at consumers.

Customers can subscribe to the AME Middle East Financial News Digest online using their credit card, or print off an order form to fax back to AME.

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