The Daily News publication, one of the 3 prominent traditional news media firms in Zimbabwe, has removed its paywall, just a year after putting it up.
The publication, which has a print counterpart, required that users pay a subscription in USD (via Mastercard and Visa) before they could read any content. There was no option for subscribers to pay using local currency or methods such as EcoCash mobile money- the most widely used payment channel in Zimbabwe.
It was one of the only two publications that have paywalls in Zimbabwe. The other being Financial Gazette. Both publications are owned by the one company, called Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ).
It is not clear why the publication has dropped the paywall. The assumption is that the revenue model was not getting much traction.
The removal of the paywall has coincided with the change of the website’s look and feel. The current website was designed by a local advertising agency called Dicomm McCann. The previous paywall, by local digital agency C2.
Interestingly, the Financial Gazette has not removed its paywall.
Paywalls are a difficult business model in Zimbabwe because of the rampant theft of content and disregard of intellectual property rights by aggregators. Putting one’s content behind a paywall usually means that these aggregators will pay a subscription, access the content and then make it available for free on their own websites for advertising revenue.
To date, there has not been any case of an aggregator being legally challenged for aggregating content without the original publisher’s permission.