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Los Angeles Times Seeks Readers’ Views on Smaller Pages

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The Los Angeles Times, the fourth-largest U.S. newspaper by circulation, is seeking readers’ reactions to a possible change to a smaller format.

The newspaper, owned by Tribune Publishing Co., is surveying readers about various marketing messages that could accompany a switch to a “new, compact size.” One query presented the format as “easier to hold and handle, and you no longer need to fold or maneuver the paper in order to read it.”

The survey suggests Tribune Publishing, spun off from Tribune Media Co. less than a month ago, is considering major changes at the 133-year-old Times, the largest of its 10 daily newspapers. The publication, now a broadsheet, is about 11 1/8 inches wide and 22 7/8 inches long. The survey showed a smaller format typical of some tabloids.

Nancy Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Times, said the newspaper isn’t considering changing to a tabloid format.

“We are conducting market research,” Sullivan said in an e-mail.

Tribune Publishing last week named former investment banker Austin Beutner as publisher and chief executive officer of the Times. He directed a request for comment to Sullivan.

Tribune Publishing fell 1.1 percent to $19.55 at the close in New York. The stock began trading on a when-issued basis on July 24, closing at $25.50.

Marketing Pitches

Newspapers including the Times have lost subscribers and advertisers over the past decade to online sources.

Tribune Publishing reported a 31 percent decline in net income to $15.2 million for the quarter ended June 29. Advertising sales fell 7.1 percent to $242.1 million from a year earlier, while circulation revenue at the Chicago-based company rose 2.3 percent to $109 million.

Among the marketing messages readers were asked to evaluate:

“All of the same great stories to discover in a new, compact size.”

“This new format offers the same high quality journalism and price you know and expect, with a more compact size.”

“Sit back and relax with our new format paper, its smaller size means a more comfortable and seamless reading experience.”

The Times first began publishing in December 1881 as the Los Angeles Daily Times, according to its website. Under its owner Harrison Gray Otis and his successors in the Chandler family, it became the region’s dominant publication.

In 2000, Times Mirror Co. was sold to Tribune Co. After an acquisition by real estate billionaire Sam Zell, Tribune filed for bankruptcy in 2008. It emerged after a reorganization in December 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Rob Golum

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