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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 17:27 GMT
FT.com to start charging users
The Financial Times' famous pink pages
Pearson owns the Financial Times newspaper
The Financial Times' web edition, FT.com, is to start charging users up to 100 a year for full access.

The FT Group said it planned to introduce the fees "within the next few months."

"Large elements of the site will remain free," said Joanna Manning-Cooper of the FT Group.

But she said the site would be looking to introduce new content for which it would charge.

The articles could include analysis and extra financial information, but Ms Manning-Cooper said no details had been finalised on either content or price.

FT.com has an estimated 2.7 million users. The admission came on the day the FT's owner Pearson said it was on track to break even by the fourth quarter of this year.

Ad slump hits profits

Its full-year figures revealed that, as expected, profits had been hit by the downturn in advertising sales last year.

Pre-tax profits for the group were down 12% to 294m in 2001, compared with 333m the previous year.

Pearson said it was hit by falling demand for newspaper and television advertising.

In October, Pearson warned that profits would be hit by an "exceptional downturn in advertising" following the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Cost-cutting

But even before 11 September, the advertising sector was already suffering in 2001.

Last year's global economic slowdown saw companies trimming their marketing budgets as they sought to cut costs.

Pearson's chief executive, Marjorie Scardino, said: "The recession in advertising and technology markets meant that it was not possible last year to build on the steady improvement in performance which our shareholders have come to expect.

"Good growth in our less cyclical businesses allowed us to keep the overall level of sales and profit roughly level with the year before and, as we look ahead into 2002, we are confident of resuming our progress whatever the economic climate."

Pearson has been undergoing a major cost-cutting drive since the 11 September attacks, and last year announced plans to cut staff numbers at the Financial Times from 1,050 to 900.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | Business
Pearson warns on education profits
20 Nov 01 | Americas
Pearson expands interests in China
17 Oct 01 | Business
Ad slump hits takings at Pearson
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