NEW YORK (Reuters) -
Newspaper publisher Gannett Co. Inc. said Friday it would not renew a joint pact with E.W. Scripps Co. involving circulation, printing and other business operations at their Cincinnati newspapers when the agreement expires at the end of 2007.
Gannett, owner of the Cincinnati morning newspaper The Enquirer, cited declines in afternoon newspaper readership for its decision not to renew the 27-year-old contract with Scripps, publisher of the afternoon Cincinnati Post and a sister paper, The Kentucky Post.
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Combined paid circulation at The Cincinnati Post and The Kentucky Post is down to about 42,000 daily and 57,000 Saturday as of September 2003, from about 188,000 when the partnership was formed, the companies said.
Under the agreement, news operations of the papers are separate but other functions, such as advertising and circulation, are managed by The Enquirer.
Cincinnati-based Scripps said it is exploring all options for the future of The Post.
In light of Gannett's decision, Scripps said it would take a $1.8 million pre-tax charge in the 2003 fourth quarter to reflect estimated severance costs for Post editorial employees. But the company said there would be no immediate loss of any editorial positions at the papers.
Gannett (GCI: Research, Estimates) stock slipped $1.24 to $86.90, while Scripps (SSP: Research, Estimates) shares rose 2 cents to $92.72 by the end of the trading day on the New York Stock Exchange.