LAT reports more bad news

To be honest, I can't tell whether this restates previously known circulation losses, or whether it's a new drop. But an E&P story says that Tribune today told analysts to expect a 5.5% plunge in L.A. Times circulation when the numbers come out next month. Slightly better news at other Tribune papers "didn't keep analysts from circling around the L.A. Times," the story says.

When asked why the paper is experiencing such steep circ losses compared to the competition's -- the Los Angeles Daily News, for example, was flat last period -- [Tribune Publishing President Scott] Smith explained the Times relied too heavily on telemarketing. That, along with the implementation of tighter controls on field sales, contributed to the drop-off.

Smith, however, reassured analysts that company-wide bleeding will slow. "Our goal is to substantially reduce year-over-year declines in home-delivery and single copy sales in the September Fas-Fax," he said. "The rate of decline should diminish between now and September."

In the same phone call with analysts, Tribune chairman Dennis FitzSimons said the Times has found no factual errors in any of the stories or columns written about General Motors before the company yanked its ads in a huff. He also said the $10 and $20 million figures being mentioned for potential lost revenue were "quite high," but he wouldn't correct them.

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