Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Murdoch may soon own a NY free daily

Rupert Murdoch is reportedly close to buying the Long Island newspaper Newsday from Tribune Co. for $580 million. The transaction will also give Murdoch another jewel — amNewYork, a 4-year-old free daily that goes head-to-head with his paid New York Post.

Newsday launched amNewYork in October 2003, and the paper turned a profit in 2006. It's free-daily rival in New York, Metro, still loses money four years after its debut, and is now up for sale.

One reason for amNewYork's success is that it is supported by Newsday. It uses Newsday's stories and it piggybacks on its ad deals. The two papers use the same printing plant, too.

“We’re able to realize synergies across the two products, but we’re not cannibalizing each other," amNewYork Publisher Terry Jimenez told Editor's Weblog earlier this year.

But amNew York is not a re-hash of Newsday. Newsday published a New York edition from 1985 to 1995, but couldn't get traction in a city with three dominant dailies. AmNewYork has the look and feel of a gritty New York daily in a league with the Post and Daily News.

A big question with Murdoch acquiring Newsday is whether he'll keep amNewYork or kill it to reduce competition for the Post. However, in London Murdoch has both free and paid dailies. In fact, Murdoch continues to operate his free, 500,000-circulation daily in London even though it lost 17 million pounds ($33 million U.S.) in its first 10 months of operation, according to the Guardian of London. With amNewYork, he would be getting a paper that makes money.