PHILLY FREEBIE COMMUTING TO JERSEY

By: Lucia Moses

PHILLY FREEBIE COMMUTING TO JERSEY
Garden State Now Accounts For 5% Of Metro Distribution


Metro isn’t just for Philadelphia straphangers anymore.

The city’s 1-year-old transit paper has broadened its free distribution to
southwestern New Jersey via the Port Authority Transit Corp. (PATCO) Hi-
Speedline, a high-speed commuter train with 38,000 riders daily, and 7-Eleven
outlets. “It completes the market coverage for us,” Publisher Jim McDonald said.
“That is part of our [Metropolitan Statistical Area].”

Metro, the first U.S. launch of Luxembourg-based transit paper publisher
Metro International S.A., doesn’t have an exclusive distribution deal with PATCO
as it does with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
and as its sister papers do with transit agencies in other cities worldwide.

That SEPTA arrangement prompted a consortium of big dailies to sue, alleging
the deal gives one paper an unfair advantage over the rest. Mediation in the case
continues.

Instead, the quick-read daily is distributed in boxes outside PATCO stations,
alongside other local papers.

The dominant local paper in southwestern New Jersey is the Courier-Post,
a 81,983-circulation daily owned by Gannett Co. Inc., which is a plaintiff in the
Metro suit.

Carl Lovern, the Cherry Hill-based paper’s marketing director, said his paper
hasn’t seen any negative impact from Metro since the transit paper came
to New Jersey in late November, but objected to the subsidy it receives from
SEPTA in exchange for a page of SEPTA news per day and a cut of the ad
revenue. “For any product that’s supported by a government entity, whether it’s
Pennsylvania or New Jersey, any visibility at all is way too much,” he said.

Metro has said it’s not breaking the law and is increasing readership by
appealing to non-newspaper readers.

New Jersey distribution may account for only 5% of Metro’s total, but
McDonald hopes that number will increase as the paper grows overall. Right now,
total audited distribution stands at 143,269 – McDonald hopes to soon get it
to 170,000, an 18.7% gain.



Lucia Moses (lmoses@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor covering business
for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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