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The newspaper advertising placement service landscape has shifted once again, with the Associated Press last Friday acquiring a part of The Newspaper Network Inc.

In a separate deal, The McClatchy Co., of Sacramento, publisher of 11 daily and 13 non-daily papers, sold the rest of the business to Vertis Inc. of Baltimore.

Terms of deals weren't revealed and both are expected to close in June.

The Associated Press has been moving steadily into becoming a full-service newspaper advertising reservation, placement and distribution service. The news cooperative started its AP AdSEND satellite ad delivery system in 1994 and in 2001 purchased the Newspaper Industry Communications Center from the Newspaper Association of America (see NewsInc., Oct. 22, 2001). The NICC, as it was called, was a $5 million project of the trade association started in 1998 that never came to full fruition.

The acquisition of the Sacramento-based TNN advertising processing and billing operation will complement the former NICC, which is now called AP AdVantage. The AP's ad processing and billing operation -- which originally started out as the ad processing and billing division of the California Newspaper Publishers Association -- is also in Sacramento.

Vertis will buy TNN's sales, marketing and media planning operation and will continue to operate them under The Newspaper Network name. When combined with Vertis' existing placement service, TNN will have newspaper billings in excess of $1 billion annually, making it the second largest newspaper placement service; the largest is the Newspaper National Network, a for-profit affiliate of the Newspaper Association.

The AP and Vertis have agreed that AdVantage will provide TNN with its processing and billing services, which include the delivery of insertion orders to newspapers from advertisers or agencies, the approval or modification of the orders by publishers, the collection of tearsheets, the collection of newspaper invoices, the resolution of invoice discrepancies, consolidation of billing and cash processing.

In a press release, McClatchy's vice president of operations, Bob Weil, said, "We feel very good about placing the future of TNN in the hands of Vertis and Associated Press, two companies that are respected in the newspaper and advertising industries and promote values and goals similar to TNN."

And then there was one: The AP has taken another step in solidifying its role as the newspaper industry's exclusive agent for ad processing, billing and delivery. There are small voices in the forest that contend the news cooperative should be just that -- a vehicle for sharing news -- but it's clear that early forays into selling newspapers digital imaging technology and the AdSEND and AdVantage businesses offset the ever-increasing costs of news gathering.
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Title Annotation:Associated Press, Vertis Inc. buy The Newspaper Network Inc.
Comment:[0] McCLATCHY SELLS AD UNIT TO AP, VERTIS.(Associated Press, Vertis Inc. buy The Newspaper Network Inc.)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 14, 2003

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