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Citrus Times will cease publication on April 2

By TIMES STAFF
Published February 21, 2007


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INVERNESS - The St. Petersburg Times announced Tuesday that it will no longer publish an intensely local news section in Citrus County.

The Citrus Times section that has been published since 1980 will cease to exist April 2, although the Times will continue to deliver a full metropolitan report in Citrus County.

"This decision reflects the changing marketplace and the need to match our news coverage with business opportunities," said Paul Tash, editor and chairman of the Times.

Citrus County residents still will be able to get the newspaper delivered at home, and they can buy it in vending machines and stores. The paper will continue to write about major local news events, but those reports will now be included in the other sections of the newspaper.

There will be no change in several popular features, including the TV and movie listings.

Advertisers will still be able to reach Times readers in Citrus through zoned advertising and preprints.

The Times anticipates that its circulation in the Citrus area will remain near its current level. "A great majority of Times readers in Citrus also read a smaller, local newspaper, but they can rely only on the St. Petersburg Times for its award-winning and national and international coverage," Tash said.

In the Citrus region, the Times sells about 14,000 newspapers daily and 19,000 on Sunday. The total circulation of the Times is about 308,000 daily and 407,000 on Sunday.

In a recent poll, Times readers said they value the metropolitan and national/international coverage that the paper provides and that isn't available elsewhere.

"We will continue to deliver the St. Petersburg Times throughout this area and anticipate strong results, especially because so many Citrus residents have settled here from other parts of the country," Tash said.

The Times will close its offices in Inverness and Crystal River and eliminate 19 news and advertising positions. "We expect many of these staffers to post for positions around the company, especially in Hernando and Pasco counties," said company vice president Jane Peppard.

The Citrus delivery center will remain open with its current level of staffing.

A recent study of the Citrus County operation showed that costs outpaced revenues by a substantial margin.

"We simply must redirect our resources to the areas of greatest growth and opportunity," said Times Publisher Marty Petty.

"We will bolster our products in Hernando County, Pasco County and other territories closer to the Times' traditional base."

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[Last modified February 21, 2007, 06:45:37]


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