50 Papers Rescind Associated Press Cancellation Notices

By: Joe Strupp

Some 50 newspapers that had given notice of cancellation to the Associated Press in the past two years have rescinded those notices in recent months, according to Paul Colford, the AP’s director of media relations.

“We are pleased and gratified by these members’ decisions,” Colford said in a statement to E&P. “The Associated Press, the gold standard for breaking news, has been working with all members of the cooperative to determine their needs and to ensure that the AP news report retains its value to them and their readers.”

About 130 newspapers remain under cancellation notice, but AP officials said they were hopeful more would rescind soon.

Among those rescinding cancellations are New York’s Daily News and the 18-daily Heartland Publications chain. AP declined to provide an entire list of those rescinding their cancellations, citing its policy not to discuss its relationship with specific members.

But in an Oct. 14 letter to AP, Heartland CEO and President Michael Bush stated that it was the recently revised AP rates and packages that drew his chain back to membership. “The revised plan that has been issued to members regarding Members Choice and pricing resolves much of the issues that were of concern,” the letter said.

The Post Register of Idaho Falls rescinded its cancellation last month in a note to AP CEO and President Tom Curley from Publisher Roger Plothow.

AP requires that members give two years notice if they wish not to renew their membership. AP revealed in April that about 180 member newspapers had filed notices in the past two years to leave the AP. Many had cited a new rate structure, while others complained about different aspects of coverage.

But since April, when AP announced a revised fee structure for 2010 with further savings, at least 50 papers have rescinded those cancellations, Colford said, noting many said they were satisfied with a new fee structure put in place this year and other fee changes announced for 2010.

He said those changes in 2009 and those slated for 2010 amount to about $65 million in savings for members. AP also announced in April it would no longer require a two-year notice as of 2010, but would give discounts to members who agree to remain under the two-year notice requirement.

“Many papers regularly examine all their news sources. We think that’s a healthy thing,” Sue Cross, AP’s senior vice president for Media Markets, Americas, said in a statement. “We’ll keep working, constantly, to be valuable as a core resource. We do expect some may leave if they go all-local or because of other business changes, but we believe the cooperative newsgathering and AP’s credibility in news sourcing remain vital to most. We’re seeing many members that were under notice reaffirm their membership in the cooperative.”

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