Largest U.S. newspaper chains discuss a joint ad-sales company

By Keith J. Kelly, New York Post

Gannett, Advance Publications, Hearst Corp., McClatchy Newspapers and Tribune Co. could team up

Five of the nation’s largest — and battered — newspaper chains are in hush-hush talks about banding together to form a new company to sell ads to national advertisers in 30 major metro markets.
Gannett, Newhouse-owned Advance Publications, the family-owned Hearst Corp., McClatchy Newspapers and Tribune Co. are the companies huddling.
“It is still early stages,” said one source familiar with the talks. “Nobody has committed yet.”
The new company, if formed, would likely result in major downsizings of staffs at the five papers as companies would be able to eliminate the redundancy of paying competing national sales staffs, currently estimated to employ 150 to 200 people across all five companies.
The new company would probably employ no more than 50 people, one industry source estimated.
Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, is said to be the driving force behind the effort.
Tony Hunter, the publisher and CEO of the Tribune Media Group — which already sells to the big advertisers for the parent company — is said to be shepherding the talks. He did not return a call seeking comment.
It is not the first time publishers sought to pool some of their resources to sell to big advertisers.
In June, publishers formed the MediaWorks Publisher Consortium. The new company would be different, sources said.
There is also a Newspaper National Network that does some of the same tasks.
In all other endeavors, the newspapers always kept separate ads sales staffs — and results were less than dramatic.
The proposed new company, which is going by the code name “Next Gen,” would be markedly different. It would involve forming a whole new for-profit company funded by the five titans of the newspaper world.