“Goodbye Colorado” read the headline on The Rocky Mountain News’ last edition published Feb. 27, two months shy of the paper’s 150th anniversary. Unable to find a buyer, the closing of the E.W. Scripps-owned paper sent shock waves through the newspaper business, erasing notions of the viability of any market to sustain two papers. Even though the Rocky had been in a joint operating agreement with The Denver Post, it lost $16 million last year.
Rocky employees had a hard time letting go. A few months after it folded, a group of writers and editors launched in July an online news site called Rocky Mountain Independent, which folded after only three months on Oct. 2. Another effort, INDenver Times formed in March by 30 former Rocky journalists, has managed to survive.
The Denver Post assumed the Rocky’s subscribers, boosting circulation to 371,728. But it is still selling 17.4 percent fewer newsstand copies than that of the two papers combined, according to a Denver Business Journal analysis. Owner MediaNews Group also took full ownership of Prairie Mountain Publishing, formerly a 50/50 partnership with Scripps, adding ownership of Daily Camera and Colorado Daily in Boulder. The company also recently announced plans to begin charging for online content for all its papers and began testing “individuated news” or I-News, which prints papers in test homes and a local hotel.
While the newspaper business reset itself in Denver, the market’s radio stations (which includes stations in Boulder) got their first monthly electronic ratings for September from Arbitron’s portable people meter service. KOSI-FM, Entercom Communications’ Adult Contemporary station, surged from No. 4 in diary reports to the top of the rankers, while KOA-AM, Clear Channel’s News/Talk station, fell from No. 1 to No. 5. Spanish-language stations debuted well in the first PPM ratings. Entravision Communications’ Regional Mexican KXPK-FM moved up from No. 3 to No. 2, while sister station Spanish Adult Hits KJMN-FM jumped from No. 13 to No. 6.
The TV market moved up two places in rank, according to Nielsen universe estimates, surpassing Miami and Cleveland due to the addition of 15,170 TV households, a 1 percent increase. With the pending 2010 governor and U.S. Senate race, TV outlets are expecting healthy political advertising.
While TV stations in many markets have struck formal video news-sharing pacts, five Denver stations (the four major affiliates plus Univision) have kept it informal, preferring a daily conference call to make any decision about pooling coverage. KUSA, Gannett’s NBC affiliate, and KMGH, McGraw-Hill Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate, share a news helicopter.
Dominant for several years, KUSA remains the station to beat in all news dayparts. KMGH generally ranks second except in late news when KCNC, CBS Television’s owned-and-operated outlet, moves into the No. 2 spot.
The biggest changes in local news have come at KWGN-TV, Local TV’s CW affiliate, and KDVR, Tribune’s Fox affiliate, which operate under a local marketing agreement and share facilities at KDVR. The LMA set into motion a number changes, including layoffs at both stations. In a bid to attract younger demographics, KWGN was rebranded as “The Deuce” and shifted its 9 p.m. news to 7 p.m. The station also cut its 11 p.m. newscast so as not to compete with KDVR. KWGN broadcasts 15 hours of local programming—14 of which struggle to generate a 1 rating.
CBS Outdoor dominates out-of-home inventory with street furniture and bus shelter contracts and prime inventory outside major venues Pepsi Center and Invesco Center. Clear Channel Outdoor also offers advertising options at the Denver International Airport, the nation’s fifth largest, including spectaculars and ads on the rail system.