Circ Drops at 'Boston Globe,' Some Gains at 'NYT' and McClatchy

By: Jennifer Saba Many in the industry are dreading the upcoming Fas-Fax report, and early numbers are slowly starting to emerge. Today came word that The Boston Globe is expecting steep overall circulation declines for the six-month period ending March 2005 while The New York Times and the McClatchy chain experienced slight gains.

During an earnings call with analysts Thursday morning, executives at The New York Times Co. said that the Globe's daily circ declined by 17,000 copies, or 3.7%, and Sunday decreased by 15,000 copies, or 2.1%.

The New York Times reported daily circ increased by 2,500 copies, or .2%. Sunday circ grew 3,500 copies, also .2%. The Times' daily circulation dropped 2% within New York, though national circulation is up 2%. Sunday circ sank 5% in the New York area while it increased roughly 5% nationally.

Executives attributed the circulation decreases in Boston and in the New York area to weather problems during Q1, changing demographics -- an influx of immigrants -- and the shunning of traditional papers by a younger generation.

Janet Robinson, president and CEO of the New York Times Co., warned the declines would continue for the second half of the year, especially as the company migrates away from bulk sales. ?Advertisers are becoming better informed of circulation analysis,? she said, adding that the Times is in the process of converting to a readership model.

For Q1, circulation revenue at the company slipped slightly, down 0.3%. The New York Times Media Group was up 0.9%. The New England group was down 7%, and the Regional Media Group was flat.

Also today, the McClatchy Co., which often outperforms the industry in terms of circulation gains, announced that the upcoming Fas-Fax report will show daily circ up 2% but Sunday circ down 2% for the company. Gary Pruitt, CEO of McClatchy, told analysts this afternoon that he expects Sunday circ to continue to show declines around 1% for the year while daily circ will remain flat.

Pruitt explained the industry wide decrease in Sunday copies is ?abnormally large? because of fewer third-party sales.

He thinks there will be some ?pretty ugly Fas-Fax numbers coming? from many companies due to the pull back in bulk copies.


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