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After months of speculation, it’s official: The New York Times has announced plans to charge readers for access to its website.

Chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., president and chief executive Janet L. Robinson, senior vice president for digital operations Martin A. Nisenholtz and executive editor Bill Keller all went on the record with the TimesRichard Perez-Pena for his story on the decision.

From the press release:

The new approach, referred to as the metered model, will offer users free access to a set number of articles per month and then charge users once they exceed that number. This will enable NYTimes.com to create a second revenue stream and preserve its robust advertising business. It will also provide the necessary flexibility to keep an appropriate ratio between free and paid content and stay connected to a search-driven Web.

It seems the Times had a hard time keeping the final decision a secret. New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman published a story on January 17th that suggested the newspaper was “close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website.”

Read the full release after the jump.

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