Overshadowed by the clamour over Rupert Murdoch’s bidding for the Wall Street Journal has been his plan to extend the reach of his chain of local weeklies in New York City.
This week, Murdoch bought two papers in the Bronx section of the city, the Bronx Times and the Bronx Times Reporter. How much Murdoch has offered for the two papers has not been disclosed.
Local weeklies, which are described as ‘neighbourhood’papers, are are highly profitable in the US at the moment. They are attractive to advertisers, especially when they are linked to bigger papers, such as the Murdoch-owned tabloid, the New York Post.
For News Corp there is the added advantage of combining printing and distribution facilities of its daily New York tabloid and the neighbourhood weeklies. It cuts costs and improves printing quality.
A year ago, News Corp bought the TimesLedger group which distributes weeklies Queens, another outlying New York district, and the Courier Life group based in Brooklyn. Next month, News Corp plans to expand the circulation area of some of those papers.
Including the two new acquisitions in the Bronx, which distribute around 40,000 copies, many of them free, the combined circulation of News Corp’s weekly titles in the city is around 300,000.