Throughout the year, a handful of smallish newspapers have announced plans to drop out of the AP cooperative. Back in August, the teetering-on-bankrupt Minneapolis Star-Tribune became the largest paper to give the AP drop out notice, the result of a pricing dispute. Now a real industry heavyweight has announced the same thing:
E&P: Tribune Company has given a two-year notice to the Associated Press that its daily newspapers plan to drop the news service, becoming the first major newspaper chain to do so since the recent controversy over new rates began.
Tribune, which owns nine daily papers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, joins a growing list of newspapers that have sought to end AP contracts, or given notice of that, following plans to introduce a new controversial rate structure in 2009. The notice was given earlier this week.
AP Spokesman Paul Colford confirmed the cancellation notice, but said he had no more specifics. He issued the following statement about it:
“We understand that in this climate a lot of newspapers are re-examining their strategies. The Associated Press will continue to work with all members of the cooperative to ensure that we are providing the most efficient, valued and essential news service for them.”
E&P calls it a “shocker”, but just as in the case with the Strib, there’s no guarantee that the Sam Zell’s newspaper company will actually go sans-AP. If the issue is the pricing model, that may yet get resolved. The key here is that if it doesn’t get resolved, Tribune now has the flexibility to withdraw if it wants to down the road.