By Kenneth Li
(Reuters) – Reuters News has postponed the start of charging for accessing content on its website due to a dispute with financial data provider Refinitiv over whether the initiative would violate a news provision agreement between the two companies.
Reuters, a unit of Thomson Reuters Corp, had been planning to start charging for the news on Reuters.com starting June 1. It was not immediately clear how long the delay would last.
In a staff meeting on Thursday, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni confirmed that the news agency had halted the launch of the website’s payment barrier, as well as the introduction of a new legal news section, while it was discussed with Refinitiv. The dispute was ongoing.
In a statement, the Reuters spokesman said that “we are still working on our plans for the relaunch of Reuters.com as a subscription service.” The conversations with Refinitiv were “about our approach to business and products, and how we can improve our offering for all customers,” the spokesperson added.
London Stock Exchange Group Plc, Refinitiv’s parent, said discussions were ongoing. “The foundation of our partnership is solid and we will continue to work together to serve all of our clients,” he said in a statement.
The postponement is a setback for Reuters’ plans to create new revenue streams through its website and raises questions about the news agency’s relationship with its biggest client.
Refinitiv accounts for about half of Reuters’ revenue, which derives most of the rest from its news agency operations and its growing events business.
Refinitiv was part of Thomson Reuters until private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc acquired a majority stake in 2018. Blackstone and Thomson Reuters subsequently sold Refinitiv to the LSE, closing the deal in January this year.
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As part of their initial separation, Refinitiv reached a 30-year news agreement with Reuters. Refinitiv competes with Bloomberg and other data and news providers for banks and other financial institutions, and Reuters News has long been a distinguishing factor for the business.
Under the deal, Reuters is guaranteed annual payments of at least $ 336 million for providing news and editorial content to Refinitiv through 2048.
In April, Reuters announced that it planned to charge $ 34.99 a month for access to its website, which has been available for free. Reuters chief marketing officer Josh London called the launch “Reuters’s biggest digital transformation in a decade.”
(Reporting by Kenneth Li in New York; Edited in Spanish by Manuel Farías)