The Associated Press board of directors gave final approval Thursday to a revised rate structure that will lower by up to $21 million the fees paid by its newspaper members, the news cooperative said.
The new structure could amount to an estimated 10 percent reduction in the fees paid by newspapers to the AP starting in 2009. The reduction comes after two years without rate increases.
Newspapers asked for the cuts as advertising revenue has fallen because of an economic slowdown and an ongoing shift of readers and advertising dollars to the Internet. On Thursday alone, three major publishers reported nearly 50 percent drops in quarterly earnings and a fourth announced it was exploring putting itself up for sale.
Last fall, the AP board initially approved restructuring its prices and news packages to create a core product of breaking news and offer a separate service called AP Complete that would include analysis, features and enterprise reports. Those changes would have saved member newspapers about $5.6 million but will now save about $13.6 million.
Members can save up to another $7.5 million on fees by participating in an initiative to add digital “tags” to news stories that allow them to be searched and indexed online more easily.
Altogether, the expected savings from participating in the tagging program and from the new pricing mechanism could add up to $21 million.
After calls for deeper reductions, the news cooperative in April adopted the structure approved Thursday.
The AP said it will inform all members by Aug. 15 what the rate changes mean to them individually.