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Facebook to launch news subscription feature this year

Noah Berger / AP

Facebook is briefing news publishers on plans to support subscriptions through Instant Articles, per a source familiar with the proposal. The model will likely support 10 or more free articles a month before readers are prompted to pay. The payment logistics are still being determined but the update will give publishers full access to subscription data and control over which articles are locked and unlocked.

Timing: Facebook plans to launch a test of the tool towards the end of the year with the aim of opening it open to more publishers next year. In a statement, Facebook Journalism Projects' Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown says the company is in early talks with several news publishers about supporting their subscription businesses.

Why it matters: This is Facebook's latest step to create better relationships with its publishing partners. Facebook and Google's digital ad dominance has made it increasingly difficult for publishers to make digital ad revenue. As a result, many premium publishers, like The New York Times and Washington Post, are increasingly focusing efforts on subscription revenues.