Local News War Just Got Interesting Now That Azcentral Will Be Charging For Access

The competition between local news media outlets just got interesting after Gannett, Co which owns Azcentral.com has decided to not only start charging online subscribers $10 a month but also is raising its prices for the Arizona Republic print edition as well. The price increase will be anywhere between 7 cents to 25 cents. Gannett also owns 12 News (KPNX which is the NBC affiliate here in Phoenix) and no doubt we’re seeing that their viewers at least on Facebook saying they’ll be unliking them and going to another competitor.

Yes, the media war has once again started up and first out of the chute to begin firing was CBS 5 News which is letting its viewers know, accessing their site will continue to be free. On Facebook they also let viewers know that information to the public should be free.  You have to like CBS 5 “telling it like it is” as their slogan dictates, because news buffs are also expressing their agreement.  In fact, over the last year the station has recently stepped up its game by adding reporters to the lineup that could mean an increased draw in audiences. They’ve also encouraged more viewers to send in stories which definitely attracts more loyalty once they air.

Rebecca Thomas was one of those recent acquisitions and probably could take the station to even greater news heights when it comes to quality stories. Thomas came over from ABC15 News (KNXV) where she was a familiar face to audiences. Already, some of those viewers who enjoyed watching her there have begun watching CBS5. Thomas is indeed as pleasant in person as she is on the air so it will be a strength for her new home.

Another asset to CBS5 that has been noticed is adding Jadiann Thompson to the CBS 5 family unit last year. She was formerly with KTWO TV (K2 TV) the ABC affiliate in Wyoming. It doesn’t hurt that she’s pleasant on the eyes (no human men, we don’t know if she’s single) but she like Thomas is able to grab an audience and is now becoming a somewhat familiar face to audiences. She also is is very nice in person and very professional just like Thomas. Did I mention that both of them have cats? Thomas has a cat named Fendi, and Thompson has a cat named Izzy. You can’t lose when you have reporters that are cat lovers.

CBS 5 also has a new set for their morning show which also has a nice little cast of characters including Nicole Crites, Pat McReynolds, Katie Baker, and Bob Horton. They also have a new set for it as well. Before the set admittedly, I had to say things were a little bland in the past with the newscast (of course it’s hard to wake up in the morning to the news) but now the new set makes it more inviting for guests coming on the show and audiences watching and wanting to interact. Maybe, they’ll get the Safe Haven cats on the show with them from time to time. It’d be great for them to feature the cats that rescue has for adoption. Of course, seeing more local businesses like Panther TEK on the morning show would be great too. I like fun newscasts and admittedly have watched CBS 5 News a little bit more now in the morning . I think the new set could still use an aquarium in the background. That would certainly add a touch of homeliness and might be a visual draw for the audience.

While CBS 5 has been more vocal about AZ Central’s new pricing increase, it will also be a matter of time before Fox 10, 3TV, and ABC15 start stepping up their game to attract audiences away from 12 News. Another problem will be with advertisers who relied on AZ Central and the Arizona Republic to get the word out about their business. Will they jump ship and switch their advertising to other news sites that offer free access for audiences? For businesses investing money on advertising , they want to reach as many people as possible. When a site goes from free to a paid subscription, people tend to leave and go elsewhere thus reducing the audience that sees your message.

The Arizona Republic has stated that the new model for subscriptions will include a range of options from full access digital-only, to full access with 7 day delivery of the print edition. That’s right, if you get the paper delivered to your home, you also will be required to sign on for digital access as well. I guess a price increase for subscribers wasn’t enough.

It’s too soon to tell whether or not the Arizona Republic will end up losing a great portion of its subscription base but we have heard from a few readers that have already planned to end their subscriptions when the new prices take effect after September 10th. Right now it doesn’t look good for Gannett, 12 News or the Arizona Republic, but there’s always that possibility that die-hard news fans convince them that they’re moving in the wrong direction here. Hopefully, they won’t wait to lose their entire audience before that happens.



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