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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chronicle Slashes Subscription Rates for Weekend Delivery

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 5:05 PM

click to enlarge The San Francisco Chronicle's new subscription offer
  • The San Francisco Chronicle's new subscription offer
The cash-hemorrhaging San Francisco Chronicle last year hiked its subscription rates in what editor Ward Bushee described as an effort to make up for declining ad revenue in the digital age -- essentially asking readers to foot more of the bill for the printed paper.

Well, the powers-that-be at the Chron now seem to be trying a different tack. Promotional ads in recent editions of the paper are touting a year-long, Thursday-through-Sunday subscription for only $19.99. Even though the deal includes delivery only four days of the week, that's still an astoundingly low price -- particularly when one considers that the Sunday paper is the costliest to produce.

Just a year and a half ago, for example -- in January 2009 -- the seven-day subscription rate was raised to about $400. Prior to the new offer, a subscription for just the Sunday paper cost $4.25 per week.

We left messages for Bushee, as well as Chronicle President Mark Adkins and Vice President for Circulation Chris Blaser, to see what the thinking is behind the new bargain-basement subscription offer. Nobody returned our calls.

Did the Chron's price hikes not go over so well with readers already buckling under the Great Recession? Bushee had admitted the paper expected to lose readers, but it's possible the losses exceeded his and others' predictions.

No matter: The fact remains that a yearly subscription to most of the Chronicle now costs the same as an Old Navy pilot tee shirt. We'll give you one guess at which product will be more popular among today's metro-news-indifferent, Internet-addicted readers.

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Peter Jamison

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