01/14/2012 12:24 EST | Updated 03/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Irving newspapers charge for online access

People in the habit of getting their news online from New Brunswick newspapers must now pay to access the news.

All content from the 19 Irving-owned papers has been put behind a pay wall online for the past week — including the Times and Transcript, the Daily Gleaner and the Telegraph Journal.

Former journalism professor Marie-Linda Lord said the company's virtual monopoly on newspapers in New Brunswick means many people will feel they have no choice but to pay $20 per month for a subscription.

"We have been missing having access on the web to the newspapers owned by Irving. So, if we want to read the news and have access to editorials and columns, I think that's what people read the most, we have to get information from the newspapers. It's a must," she said.

The online service is $3 cheaper for people who agree to also have a paper delivered to their door, said Lord, who is the vice-president of student and international affairs at the University of Moncton.

That might seem counter intuitive, she said, but there's a good reason for the discount. The hard copy acts as a vehicle for flyers, Lord said, which are the real moneymakers for the company.

"They want us to get the junk mail because it's a big business for them and if we only have the subscription on the web, it would mean less people having all those flyers from Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart.," she said.

"You know, it's almost three-inches high every week, so that's why I think it's cheaper."

Irving has tried to force readers to pay for online content in the past, Lord said, and she thinks this time it might be profitable for the company.