Advertiser pulls plug
on afternoon edition

Publisher Fisch cites declining
circulation behind the move

The Honolulu Advertiser will cease publication of its afternoon edition on Friday, President and Publisher Mike Fisch said yesterday.

The afternoon edition has 22,000 Oahu subscribers, whom the Advertiser will switch to morning delivery. About 100 subscribers have been receiving both the morning and afternoon editions, he said.

"We never saw (the afternoon edition) as a long-term market opportunity," he said. "P.m. papers' circulation has been declining for 40 years, and it continues to decline. We see the opportunity and the future in the mornings."

The newspaper circulates more than 140,000 papers statewide each morning.

The Advertiser began its afternoon edition in March 2001, after the termination of a 39-year joint operating agreement in which the Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin shared advertising and circulation functions but maintained separate newsrooms.

At the time, Fisch said an afternoon edition was warranted given the competition for readers and advertisers by the newly independent Star-Bulletin.

The Star-Bulletin publishes 62,000 copies a day, split between a morning edition sold only at newsstands and an afternoon home-delivery edition.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin President and Publisher Dennis Francis said he was not surprised by yesterday's announcement.

"Their p.m. edition of late hasn't appeared much different than their morning edition," he said. Francis is a former general manager of the Advertiser.

A no-layoff clause covers members of the six unions that represent Advertiser workers through the end of the month, Fisch said. There will be no newsroom layoffs, but the cancellation of the afternoon edition will "impact" a dozen delivery and distribution personnel, he said, though a handful are close to retirement.

The company's distribution department should be able to absorb most of the personnel involved with the trucking of the afternoon paper to carriers, since many will be moved to morning deliveries, he said.

Hawaii Newspaper Guild administrative officer Wayne Cahill said the union will closely monitor any moves.

Francis is skeptical that all 22,000 afternoon Advertiser subscribers will want the morning edition.

"To assume that they're going to just move over to the morning is a big leap," he said.

Many of the afternoon subscribers were given free weekday afternoon delivery with paid Sunday edition subscriptions.

"It's the same move they're doing with their Friday-Saturday-Sunday combination," Francis said. "The subscriber is paying only for Sunday and getting the other days of the week for free."

Such discounted rates fatten a newspaper's paid circulation figures, which are the basis for advertising rates.

The Advertiser, owned by Virginia-based Gannett Co., is now printed at a new facility in Kapolei.

"With our capacity in Kapolei, we can print the entire press run in the morning, and it gets us out of the afternoon traffic congestion, which is part of the reason p.m. papers have had a difficult time," said Fisch.

The decision will free the presses for other products and commercial printing jobs, he said.

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