McClatchy to Split from Tribune/Gannett — Join Yahoo Deal

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With newspaper publishers scrambling to assemble lucrative online advertising alliances, McClatchy Co. has abandoned its nascent partnership with Tribune Co. and Gannett Co. to defect to another team of publishers negotiating a wide-ranging deal with Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc., according to a published report.

An agreement between Yahoo and the consortium?which already includes 12 publishers led by Hearst Corp. and MediaNews Group Inc. that represent more than 250 newspapers?could be announced as early as next week, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Thursday night, citing unnamed people familiar with the discussions.

Representatives from Yahoo and McClatchy, the nation’s third largest newspaper publisher, declined to comment on the report.

The deal would create a common online platform that allows advertisers to easily buy ad space across a large number of newspaper Web sites at once. It would also require that the newspapers in the consortium use the Yahoo search feature on their Web sites, and the papers and Yahoo would split the profits from selling ads on each others’ sites, the Journal reported.

The ability to tap into Yahoo’s well-honed ad-serving technology helped lure McClatchy away from the Tribune-Gannett partnership, the newspaper said.

As more advertising dollars migrate away from print media and onto the Internet, newspaper publishers are hoping that the creation of a national network will help attract deep-pocketed advertisers such as car makers and phone companies that want to target broad online audiences.

The deal would also be an important play for Yahoo in its ongoing battle with Internet search leader Google Inc.

McClatchy owns such papers as the Miami Herald and the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee. Two weeks ago, the Sacramento-based company announced it had struck a deal to provide international news coverage and commentary to Yahoo beginning in the second quarter, but it had not yet publicly joined the group of publishers negotiating the broad advertising deal with Yahoo.

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