Friday, October 27, 2006

SF Examiner owner may open 2nd free daily

We're not sure what to make of this, but the owner of the free tabloid San Francisco Examiner, billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz (pictured), reportedly wants to open a second free daily in the city by the bay. Apparently this new free daily, which would be called the City Star, is designed to compete against the San Francisco Daily (or SF Daily) which started almost six months ago. The SF Daily has taken off like a rocket, going from eight to 24 pages per day. In the most recent issue, we counted 125 ads, more than double that of the Examiner, though the Examiner has more pages. A story in the SF Daily quotes the Examiner editor as confirming Anschutz's plans for the new paper sometime before year's end.

It is not clear why the Examiner, which itself is a free daily, is starting a second free daily. One rumor is that Anschutz plans to build up City Star and then close the Examiner, which has never been very strong in terms of advertising or news since Hearst Corp. sold it in 2000. If the plan is to have the City Star charge less for ads, in order to compete with the SF Daily, one wonders how the Examiner will keep its current advertisers from leaving for the new paper. Then again, with a net worth of $7 billion, maybe Anschutz doesn't care.