Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Newspapers' Share of Ad Market Plummets

According to the Feb. 19 USAToday, car dealership ad spending on newspapers has plunged over the past decade from a 52% share in 1996 to 27% in 2006.

Over the comparable period, the Internet has become a competitor and in 2006 had 12% of the auto ad market.

Surprisingly, both radio and TV have increased their share, from 16% to 18% for the former and 17% to 20% for the latter.

A severe drop in advertisement revenue has lead to curtailment of staff and coverage for daily papers throughout the nation. This is especially apparent in the near elimination of investigatory reporting, Lancaster included.

Symptomatic but more highly publicized has been the virtual civil war between subsequent owners and successive managers of what was long considered one of the nation's great newspapers: The LA Times.

Since the Steinman family has long been in control of the monopoly Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. and likely has no debt burden, our region has been somewhat buffered against drastic cut backs including the shutting down of evening newspapers so prevalent elsewhere, although economies in reporting are apparent.

Perhaps financial pressure from publishing was a factor in the newspapers participation in Penn Square Partners and the use of its monopoly position to push through the ill conceived convention center project.

Nor has there been an editorial written or many words, if any, printed about how half of the naming rights to the convention center have been 'gifted' to Penn Square Partners, in which Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. has a half interest.