The planned rate structure for the Associated Press was suspended Thursday. A board meeting has directed a full review of membership policies. And its members will be given full access to AP's feed without additional fees that had been scheduled to take effect in 2009 (forgoing about $7 million in revenue in the process). Cuts are promised of about $9 million, in addition to the $21 million previously announced, and the review will examine a wide range of issues.
In recent weeks some 100 papers, including those in the Tribune chain (the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, among them), had served up two-year departure notices because of the two-tiered rate structure (breaking news in basic, enterprise news in a separate tier) and their ongoing cost pressures.
The decisions Thursday are good news for organizations looking to keep costs controlled as their revenues decline in the U.S. Without those changes, departure from AP was likely for several significant companies, which would have in turn weakened the newsgathering capabilities of the venerable wire service.
The board meeting clearly attempts to mollify the immediate cost challenges and review policies in time to keep the cooperative intact during the notice period.