The new look of The Maui News

On Tuesday, we appeared on County Council Member Don Couch’s radio program, “On The Couch,” on KAOI radio.

The topic – not surprisingly – was our decision to begin charging for access to the stories on our website,

The week before, several listeners and Internet followers had chastised us for implementing a subscriber-based system of accessing our local news stories. Basically, our stance was – and remains – our product is news and if you want our local news coverage, you have to pay for it.

We have a local news staff – nobody else on Maui does – and we can’t give you the fruits of their labor for nothing. Members of our news staff have families that must be fed – we have to pay them so they may survive and readers must pay us so the entity that supports those families can survive.

On the KAOI program, we pointed out that we are far from being the only subscriber-based entity in our audience’s life. It may be disguised, but if you are a cable TV or satellite-dish customer, you subscribe to the television stations included in your package.

Just last week, DISH network subscribers in Hawaii were threatened with the loss of several channels because of a disagreement over “retransmission fees.” That is a fancy way of saying there was a disagreement over your subscription fees to local stations. They may be paid directly by DISH, but it is on a “per subscriber” basis, so ultimately you are the subscriber.

Nationally, Time Warner Cable (parent company of local provider Oceanic Time Warner) was in a dispute over what CBS-owned stations in major markets such as Los Angeles and New York were owed for “retransmission fees” (subscriptions) in those markets.

There are very few products in life that are free. If Coke charged for its product in bottles but gave it away in cans, how many bottles would it sell? The answer is not many and it soon would be out of business.

The rules of business are the same for The Maui News. We can’t give news coverage away in one package (the Internet) and charge for it in another package (our print edition).

Our new print and digital package strikes a balance. There is the immediacy of the Internet, but the complete package of print. Our replica edition on our website and our tablet app “Maui News On The Go” give readers every portion of every day in The Maui News in high definition.

We hope that the new digital offerings included in every subscription to The Maui News will fulfill what all readers expect from the ultimate source for news in Maui County.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.