Thursday, October 25, 2007

AP announces 'member choice'

My email (and probably yours) has delivered this news release about the AP's prospective new sort-of-a-la-carte service:

New AP packaging & pricing plan
to take effect in 2009

AP Board approves 'Member Choice,' making more content available and easier to find

NEW YORK -- The Associated Press Board of Directors approved a set of resolutions today that will restructure the way AP content is packaged for newspaper members as well as the assessment formula to charge for it. The move represents the most comprehensive change in the way AP content is sold in the history of the cooperative.

The new plan, called Member Choice, will make all AP English-language breaking news text available to members -- a step that should enable them to locate significantly more news of local interest for their markets.

For example, in a pilot study of Member Choice this summer, a newspaper in Texas could easily follow stories about an international company that is a major local employer. Another paper, in a city facing an overcrowding issue in high schools, located stories from two other cities in other states facing the same problem. Under AP’s previous distribution model, the newspapers would not have access to those stories.

“As newspapers focus more on local news, this total access to breaking news will greatly expand the amount of locally relevant content they can draw from,” said Tom Brettingen, AP senior vice president for Global Newspaper Markets. “Member Choice offers members more access to news, the tools to identify what they care about most, and the contract terms to use it more broadly. It also comes with a new easy-to-understand pricing structure.”

With Member Choice, members will pay a basic assessment that gives them access to all AP state, national and international breaking news. Using the Web-based AP Exchange delivery platform, newspapers can search this broader pool of content to find the stories that are most locally meaningful to their readers.

For additional fees, members will be able to buy premium services featuring in-depth content in news analysis, business, sports, entertainment and lifestyles. In addition, for the first time, members will be able to buy these stories on an a la carte basis. Members who choose not to buy the premium sports package, for example, will be able to view that content using AP Exchange and purchase individual stories.

Previously, AP sold its text in different-sized bundles, intended to serve the basic needs of small, medium and large newspapers, with the core services including varying amounts of national and international news and content from the newspaper’s home state wire.

Under the new plan, most AP members will experience either a reduction in costs, or no change, from their current AP fees. The basic assessment will continue to be based on circulation, as it has in the past. This move marks the first major change in AP’s assessment schedule since 1985.

Member Choice is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2009. It affects U.S. newspapers, which are owners of the not-for-profit cooperative. Broadcast and new media customers should also benefit from these changes, although specific programs have not been finalized.

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