Journal Register Raises Prices At Some Papers

By: Lucia Moses

Publishers usually expect to take a circulation hit when they raise the price of the paper — a trade-off, it is hoped, for higher circulation revenue. But the Journal Register Co. expects to pull off circulation gains at a dozen or so of its dailies — including four that raised home-delivery prices this year.

Robert M. Jelenic, Journal Register president, chairman, and CEO, said those papers that raised their prices could show circulation increases as high as 3% in the six months ending Sept. 30, counter to the industry trend of declining circulation. He made that forecast before terrorist attacks Sept. 11, which will likely lift the numbers further.

Jelenic believes he can raise prices while increasing circulation because, unlike other publishers, he hasn?t reacted to the slowdown by laying off staff or cutting pages at his papers, already run lean. While publishers are increasingly embracing subscription discounts as a way to increase circulation and retention, he said his papers also tend to avoid deep discounts.

Jelenic contended that by not discounting, he gets more loyal readers. While he noted circulation isn?t unimportant, Jelenic said he?s more interested in building readership in the well-off suburbs advertisers want to reach.

Journal Register expects the price hikes to increase circulation revenue close to $500,000 this year and about $1.2 million next year.

It?s money that will be especially welcome in a time of sluggish advertising spending: for the first half of this year, Journal Register?s pro forma ad revenue declined $6.4 million, or 4.5%.

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