One of Britain's most famous newspapers, The Times, has started charging readers to access its website.

It will now cost £1 for a daily subscription, or a £2 weekly subscription, to The Times or sister publication The Sunday Times, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

With newspaper sales around the world in decline and advertising increasingly moving online, owners have been searching for profitable business models for struggling newspapers, many of which have been forced to close in recent years.

Last August, Mr Murdoch announced plans to charge for his entire firm's news websites.

Business paper The Financial Times makes readers pay for online content, while the Wall Street Journal - also part of Mr Murdoch's media empire - is currently the only major US paper charging readers for full access online.

The New York Times announced in January that it would start charging for online content in early 2011.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News Corporation's main British subsidiary News International, said it was the start of the new era.

‘We believe the new sites offer real value and we look forward to continuing to invest and innovate for readers,’ she said.

Figures from Britain's Audit Bureau of Circulations for May, the most recent available, show the circulation of all British quality daily papers falling year-on-year.

The figure for The Times was 515,379, down nearly 13%, while The Sunday Times stood at 1,117,749, a drop of over 6%.

Experts warn that newspapers are taking a gamble by launching paywalls, while predicting many more will be forced to do so.