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AP Backs Down On Controversial Rate Plan: Cuts Rates, Gives Members All AP Text, Halts ’09 Increases

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imageIn a major turnabout, the Associated Press has just reversed course on its controversial rate plan following a board meeting today. The co-op, facing defections from members large and small, will cut member assessments by another $9 million next year, for a total of nearly $30 million — and will start an examination of its member structure that could result in a complete overhaul. The board voted to issue a moratorium for the papers — a minority of AP members — facing cost increases next year and unwound a provision of the new plans that would have made some AP text content, including enterprise, columns and some sports and entertainment features, premium. AP Rate reductions will be considered for AP Broadcast members as well.

The move follows by a week the announcement that Tribune Company gave its two year notice, although the company said it planned to discuss alternatives with AP in the interim. Keep in mind that under the plan slated to go into effect next year, most member papers would have seen decreases — something admitted even by some of those who gave AP the required two-year notice to leave the co-op. But it did not go far enough for some, especially in these days of staff slashing. Last week when the Columbus Dispatch announced its decision to leave AP in January 2011, the paper’s letter read, in part: “The changes to AP