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Newspapers in Times of Low Advertising Revenues

Listed author(s):
  • Angelucci, Charles
  • Cagé, Julia

Newspapers' advertising revenues have declined sharply in recent decades. We build a model to investigate the consequences on newspapers' pricing and quality choices of a reduction in advertisers' willingness to pay for readers' attention. In our model, selling subscriptions in addition to newsstand issues allows to price discriminate between readers. We show that lower advertising revenues decrease newspapers' incentives to provide quality, which increases newspapers' incentive to price discriminate whenever readers' sensitivity to quality is sufficiently high. We build a unique dataset on French newspapers between 1960 and 1974 and perform a difference-in-differences analysis using a "quasi-natural experiment": the introduction of advertising on television in 1968, which affects national newspapers more severely than local ones. We find robust evidence of increased price discrimination and decreased quality as a result of the drop in advertising revenues, which may help rationalize current industry trends.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 11414.

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Date of creation: Jul 2016
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11414
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