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Tribune, Gannett team up on entertainment websites

The newspaper companies plan to expand Metromix to more U.S. cities.

October 30, 2007|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Tribune Co. and Gannett Co. said Monday that they were working on a joint venture to expand Tribune's Metromix local entertainment website network throughout the United States in a bid for more revenue from national advertisers.

Metromix will be owned equally by Chicago-based Tribune and Gannett, based in McLean, Va. The companies did not disclose financial terms, but Tribune Interactive President Tim Landon said the venture would not be as large as the CareerBuilder online jobs site they co-own with McClatchy Co. and Microsoft Corp.

Metromix is the name of a group of websites in cities where Tribune owns a newspaper, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando, Fla.

The websites offer information such as entertainment listings, bar and restaurant reviews and write-ups on television stations and movies.

The sites are designed to tap into the Internet advertising market, particularly 21- to 34-year-olds.

Gannett and Tribune, two of the largest U.S. newspaper publishers, are trying to expand their digital businesses as print advertising sales slow.

"We need national scale to be able to compete more effectively," Landon said. "In terms of accessing national dollars, you've got to have a good, national footprint covering the top 10, 20, 30 markets."

Metromix has served Chicago for a decade, said its chief executive, Kara Walsh, and added Orlando and Baltimore in late 2005. It added most of its other sites between July and September.

The Chicago site has more than 45,000 reader reviews and lists 5,000 events, 10,000 restaurants and 3,000 bars and clubs, a Metromix statement said.

With Gannett, Tribune wants to introduce Metromix to more than 40 U.S. markets by the end of 2008, Walsh said.

Gannett shares fell 12 cents to $41.81. Shares of Tribune, owner of the Los Angeles Times, rose 43 cents to $30.08.

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