Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why The LA Times Is Sinking Even Faster Than The Numbers Say!

Not only are fewer and fewer people 'subscribing' to the LA Times, but fewer and fewer of them are actually paying for it:

Prudential Report Finds Big Drop in 'Other Paid' in New FAS-FAX, Lists Big Gainers and Losers

By Jennifer Saba Published: November 08, 2005 4:31 PM ET

NEW YORK While newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, The Orlando Sentinel, and The Sun of Baltimore reported some of the biggest declines in overall circulation this week, a new report issued Monday by Prudential Equity Research shows these papers are making progress in reducing other-paid circulation.

The research firm analyzed the top 50 newspapers' latest circulation figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Across those papers, daily circulation dropped 3.5% and Sunday fell 3.6% for the six months ending September 2005 compared to the same period last year.

On the other hand, other-paid circulation is down 2.8% for the same group of papers. In the March 2005 FAS-FAX, Prudential notes, other-paid circ had increased 10%. "The continued decline in this category suggests newspaper companies are becoming less dependent on other-paid circulation to boost their overall circulation numbers," the report stated.The other-paid circulation category includes hotel, Newspaper-in-Education, employee, and third-party sponsored copies. This type of circulation, the report notes, is widely considered by Prudential and others in the industry to be of lesser quality.

Prudential created a list of the top 50 papers and calculated the percent change in other-paid circulation using September 2005 data compared to September 2004. The top five papers that shed the most circulation in the other-paid category according to Prudential are The Sun in Baltimore, down 68.8%; the Orlando Sentinel, down 57.2%; The Philadelphia Daily News, down 52.2%; the New York Post, down %, and The Boston Globe, down %.

The top five gainers in the other-paid category according to Prudential are: the Los Angeles Times, up 43.9%; the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, up 40.4%, The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., up 30.5%; New York's Daily News, up 29.2%; and the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise, up 28.7%....

So when it comes to sub-standard (meaning partially or non-paid subscriptions), while most newspapers are cleaning up their act with fewer and fewer of these phantom subscriptions - the LA Times is not only increasing their junk circulation, but they are adding more bogus subscribers than any newspaper in the country. Of course, a spokesperson for the LA Times did try to spin those figures later in the article (see link), but if there was any logic in the arguments, I failed to find it.

But as bad as all that sounds - it's actually even worse. While the above article says that things have gotten far worse since the March report, the below article of last August shows that the March report was far worse than the report before... it!

Posted date: 8/18/2005Times Loses Home Subscribers While Discounted Papers Climb

By JAMES NASHLos Angeles Business Journal Staff

With circulation of the Los Angeles Times tumbling in the past two years, executives of the newspaper have argued that what counts is not quantity but quality - meaning home delivery, which advertisers covet the most.

But an analysis of newspaper circulation by Prudential Equity Group LLC found that the Times lost more than 100,000 paid home-delivery subscribers between March 2004 and March 2005. The drop in home delivery was 18.1 percent - the sharpest decline among the 10 largest U.S. newspapers...

.....The Times, which now has a daily circulation of just over 900,000, saw circulation increases in categories less sought after by advertisers discounted subscriptions, which jumped 9.8 percent, and hotel copies, which increased 1.1 percent, according to Prudential's analysis of Audit Bureau of Circulations data...

Times officials declined to comment on the Prudential report.

So not only was the Times worst perfoming newpaper in the country last March - it is now performing... even worse than that!

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