Charging for online content from UK media groups’ websites has fallen, according to the latest research.

A study by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) has found the number of media groups charging for online content has almost halved over the last year.

It revealed that only around 37 per cent of its members now charged for online content compared to 63 per cent who did so back in 2005.

Some of AOP’s members include IPC Media, BskyB, Reuters, BBC,, Guardian Unlimited and Which?.

Of those AOP members who do charge for online material, 25 per cent said they had earned more than £5 million in 2005.

The 2006 member survey also showed that display advertising was still the major source of income – making up 41 per cent of online revenues.

Bill Murray, AOP chairman, said: “While there remains a string view from consumers that web content must be free, the healthy online ad market has probably convinced most publishers that there is little point in trying to convert customers to paying.

“However, I suspect that within the B2B market and with some of the more interactive, high-value consumer content enabled by broadband, we will see long-term growth in the number of publishers charging for the best content.”

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