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DAILY CIRCULATION RISES 5 PERCENT AT CHICAGO SUN-TIMES; NEWSPAPER FILES SPECIAL 3-MONTH REPORT WITH ABC

 CHICAGO, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chicago Sun-Times today announced that daily circulation rose 26,386 in the three months ending Dec. 27, 1992, while Sunday circulation increased by 6,544.
 For the 13-week period, the Sun-Times reported average daily circulation of 558,738, up 5 percent from the year-ago period. The comparable Sunday figure is 551,727, a 1.2 percent increase.
 The figures -- both the raw number and percentage increase -- represent the largest increase in daily circulation shown by any Chicago newspaper in the last 15 years, according to Tom Foster, Chicago Sun- Times senior vice president of consumer sales and marketing.
 "In fact, our daily circulation figure represents a five-year high. And this report shows that our daily circulation is up, no matter how you slice it. Our single-copy, home-delivery, suburban and city sales -- all are higher than our year-ago numbers," he said.
 "These strong gains demonstrate that our Smart Choice' campaign, launched Sept. 23, is making its mark with Chicago area newspaper readers," Foster said.
 "We made a strategic decision to hold the line on our consumer price when the Tribune raised its newsstand price to 50 cents. And we developed an aggressive marketing campaign to inform the marketplace about that decision and our continued efforts to improve our daily newspaper," Foster noted. "These numbers demonstrate that Chicago area consumers got our message, tried the Sun-Times, liked what they saw and are staying with us."
 Foster said a variety of editorial initiatives helped fuel the daily circulation gains, including:
 -- strong interest in local and national elections and the Sun-Times' unique political coverage.
 -- the traditionally strong Sun-Times sports package.
 -- aggressive local investigations.
 And the newspaper's in-depth coverage of urban issues -- ranging from school reform to the October slaying of seven-year-old Dantrell Davis on his way to school, sparking Editor Dennis A. Britton's front- page letter to readers -- struck a chord with Chicagoans, Foster said.
 The Smart Choice marketing campaign introduced new readers to the Sun-Times, Publisher Sam S. McKeel said, and the combination of strong coverage with recent expansion and improvements helped the newspaper retain those readers.
 Those enhancements affect every section of the newspaper; for example:
 -- the introduction of Page Two's 2-minute round-up, a combination of briefs and an index to key stories in every section of the newspaper.
 -- the creation of MoneyLife, the new consumer-oriented Sunday financial package.
 -- the redesign of WeekendPlus, the popular Friday entertainment section.
 -- the introduction of the Metro Report, featuring short news items from across the Chicago metropolitan area.
 The changes will keep coming, McKeel said, noting that Raymond R. Coffey becomes the newpaper's full-time Page Three columnist on Jan. 31. Change isn't confined to the editorial side of the business, he added. The Sun-Times recently introduced a new advertising deadline schedule; in some cases, deadlines are 46 hours later than those of the competition. "All of these initiatives reflect our effort to be responsive to the needs of our readers and advertisers," McKeel said.
 The Sept. 23 launch of the "Smart Choice" campaign featured television and radio commercials that focused on the 35 cent daily newsstand price, the competitor's increase to 50 cents and the "Smart Choice" theme. The second series of TV commercials put the spotlight on Sun-Times columnists, including Kup, Sneed, Bill Zwecker and Rich Roeper, and special features such as WeekendPlus, MedLife and AUTOTimes. Earlier this year, the newspaper returned to radio to tout its five-part series, "The Great Divide," the first-of-its-kind survey of racial attitudes in Chicago.
 On Sept. 23, the Sun-Times announced it was holding its price at 35 cents, even though the Chicago Tribune had announced a 42 percent increase in its newsstand price, effective Sept. 28. At that time, McKeel noted that the Sun-Times has been able to meet it business objectives while steadily improving its news and advertising packages, all at the 35 cent price. The Chicago Sun-Times, he said, would hold its price at 35 cents for the foreseeable future.
 A report on the Sun-Times three-month circulation gain has been filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulation in Schaumburg, Ill. Typically, publishers file reports on six-month circulation figures at the end of March and September each year. Newspapers are not required to file the three-month statements; such a filing is usually a sign of positive news for the affected company.
 Today's unaudited figures represent average circulation for the 13- week period ending Dec. 27, 1992. They are compared with figures for the 13-week period ending Dec. 31, 1991.(A)
 1992 1991 Change
 Daily 558,738 532,352 +26,386 +5.0 percent
 Sunday 551,727 545,183 + 6,544 +1.2 percent
 NOTE: (A) All numbers are as filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulation, subject to audit.
 -0- 1/21/93
 /CONTACT: Judith Horak, 312-321-2005, or Joanne Kitsos, 312-321-2645, both of The Chicago Sun-Times/


CO: Chicago Sun-Times ST: Illinois IN: PUB SU:

WB -- NY087 -- 7619 01/21/93 16:39 EST
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Date:Jan 21, 1993
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