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WALL STREET JOURNAL TO CHARGE WEB FEE

The Wall Street Journal says it will expand its presence on the World Wide Web, making the newspaper's full contents available but also charging a fee to electronic subscribers for the first time.

The Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones & Co., have provided free stock market and investment information updates on the Web since last fall.Its new Web site, called Wall Street Journal Interactive, will provide the full Journal, updated news and sports through the day and archives of Journal articles.

The company will charge $49 annual subscription for access to the site, $29 to people who subscribe to the newspaper. Subscribers before May 31 will have free access to the electronic Journal until the end of July.

Tom Baker, business director of Wall Street Journal Interactive, said subscriber fees have been considered ever since the Journal began planning Internet distribution of news two years ago.

"People are ready to accept that, if not in the vast market of everyone who is on the Web then among the businesspeople who are on the Web," Baker said.

Earlier this month, Time Warner's Pathfinder Web service said it would soon begin to charge fees for public access to its information. The San Jose Mercury News charges $4.95 per month for access to its Mercury Center Web site, $1 per month to its newspaper subscribers.

Typically, subscribers sign up with a credit card and then access the information using a password.

About 36 editors will work on the new venture, filtering reports from the Journal, the Dow Jones News Service and other wire services through the day to update the Web site.

The e-mail address of the Wall Street Journal Interactive is http://wsj.com.