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Venture

Robert Trigaux

Five regional newspapers ringing Tampa Bay up for sale by owner New York Times

20

December

tampabaytimestashannouncedscottkeeler.jpg

The St. Petersburg Times becomes the Tampa Bay Times on Jan. 1. Photo of Times Publishing CEO Paul Tash. (Scott Keeler, St. Petersburg Times)

Wake up and good morning. To say there's change afoot in Florida newspapers would be an understatement. The New York Times says it is in "advanced talks" to sell its 16 regional newspapers to a media company in Daytona Beach. Those regional papers include several that effectively ring the Tampa Bay area and include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Lakeland Ledger, the Ocala Star Banner, the Winter Haven News Chief and the Gainesville Sun -- whose combined daily circulation is about 185,000. The buyer is reported to be Halifax Media Holdings, which owns the Daytona-Beach News Journal and four other local news organizations in Florida and across the South. All 16 papers could fetch between $150 million and $175 million based on the group's earnings, estimates Hale Holden, an analyst at Barclays Capital, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why is the NYTimes selling? From 2008 to 2009, advertising revenue at its Regional Media Group fell 30.2 percent, to $193 million, and declined 8.2 percent in 2010 to $177 million, according to the NYTimes Company’s 2010 annual report. Classified ads make up 28 percent of the advertisements at the regional newspapers.

"This gets rid of another headache for The Times," said Edward J. Atorino, a media analyst at the Benchmark Co., said in this New York Times story. It also allows the NYTimes to focus its attention on its core products, which include the New York Times newspaper, the Boston Globe newspaper and the International Herald Tribune.

These changes also happen to be taking place as Florida's largest newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times (the paper I work for), is in the final stages of changing its name to the Tampa Bay Times (as of 1/1/2012, read more here), and as another large paper in this area, the Tampa Tribune, is undergoing severe staff cutbacks (read more here).

Here's what the New York Times is selling in Florida (average 12 month circulation):

 

Daily, Sunday circulations

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, 76,693, 96,237

 

The Ledger, Lakeland, 48,802, 63,833

 

Star-Banner, Ocala, 33,880, 41,156

 

The Gainesville Sun, Gainesville, 33,278, 40,569

 

News Chief, Winter Haven, 4,839, 6,550

 

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times, soon to be the Tampa Bay Times

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 7:16am]

    

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