Fairfax paywalls 'by mid-year'

Fairfax Media will introduce paywalls on its major newspaper websites for overseas readers within a month, and for Australian readers by the middle of the year.

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood said on Thursday that digital subscriptions would be put in place for overseas readers of the company's flagship news sites during March.

"Metro digital subscriptions will start to be rolled out in offshore markets on schedule in March, with subsequent domestic launch to follow," Mr Hywood told analysts during a briefing on the company's first half results.

In June 2012, Fairfax said paywalls would be introduced on its Sydney Morning Herald and The Age news websites in the first three months of 2013.

Some initial confusion around the start times for local paywalls as outlined by Mr Hywood during the briefing was later clarified by a Fairfax Media spokesperson who told AAP the rollout of the so-called metered content model was "proceeding to plan".

Fairfax is going ahead with moving the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne's The Age to a tabloid-sized "compact format" on March 4.

Mr Hywood dismissed any threat posed to Fairfax's operations by the launch of an Australian online version of UK newspaper The Guardian after being asked by one analyst if it would have an effect.

The Guardian lured three senior journalists away from Fairfax to start its Australian operation.

"The Guardian is an extremely good brand in some suburbs of London," Mr Hywood said.

"It is not a strongly competitive brand in Australia".

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