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Leading Media Companies Join Forces to Create Classified Ventures; New Web site To Launch Products in Key Classified Categories

Times Mirror, Tribune and Washington Post Launch Online Venture With Cars.com Internet Company and Web site, Sign AOL Accord

The Times Mirror Company, Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company announced the creation of Classified Ventures, a partnership to help newspapers expand their position, using Internet technologies, as the nation's leading suppliers of classified advertising.

The new partnership's first product will be Cars.com, a Web site that offers consumers the most complete and helpful source of online information about new and used vehicles as well as the largest, most current inventory of vehicles available for sale, both locally and nationally.

Cars.com has signed an agreement to become a leading automotive services advertiser for AOL Networks, the Internet online services division of America Online, Inc. the world's largest online community with over 10 million members worldwide. The two-year, multi-million dollar agreement positions Cars.com as one of the primary links users see when they search for sites or information regarding motor vehicles in key "Auto" related areas throughout AOL.

"Classified Ventures creates the means for newspapers to join together to expand their position as the nation's largest supplier of classified information," said Jack Fuller, president of Tribune Publishing Company. "Its mission is to provide a common structure to enable publishers to capitalize on the industry's unique competitive advantages in the $15 billion classified market, both locally and nationally."

Each additional Classified Ventures service will be focused on bringing consumers a complete online solution of information and resources, including buying decision-support tools, as well as the most comprehensive listings of products for sale for its market space, Fuller said.

"This venture is designed as an industry initiative," said Alan G. Spoon, president of The Washington Post Company. "We are actively seeking affiliate partners for Cars.com, including publishers and others with access to large databases of new and used-vehicle inventory, to achieve our goal of providing complete classified listings in all major U.S. markets by year-end 1998."

Cars.com will be promoted as a national brand. It will be accessible through the Web sites of affiliates as well as the worldwide site http://www.cars.com. If they choose, newspapers will have the ability to blend Cars.com pages into the look and feel of their own local Web sites.

The initial affiliate companies, own 10 major-market newspapers and local Internet sites, and have committed substantial capital in advertising space among their media properties, including both print and broadcast, to build awareness of Cars.com.

"Times Mirror newspapers are committed to helping the country's leading newspapers create new revenue streams and drive growth by using the franchises they enjoy as the car buyer's primary source of information about local auto markets," said Donald F. Wright, senior vice president of Times Mirror and president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Times. "Cars.com will provide the global infrastructure to make local classified listings complete and compelling in a digital environment."

In addition to all classified listings from its affiliate newspapers, Cars.com will offer thousands of vehicle reviews and other resources and services for buyers, sellers and owners of vehicles. Potential buyers will be able to find specific makes and models through state-of-the-art search applications. They also will be able to access new and used-vehicle pricing and equipment information, calculate financing options and review used-car ratings and service advice.

The preview site, launching in January 1998, will offer classified vehicle listings for eight markets, including four of the nation's 10 largest - New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The three principal owners of Cars.com operate daily newspapers (Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday and The Washington Post) and corresponding Internet sites, in four of the nation's 10 largest cities. These sites will also serve as local entry points for Cars.com. In total, their newspapers reach more than 10 percent of U.S. households. Collectively, they own TV and radio stations in nine of the nation's 10 largest markets.

"Tests of competing sites show that Cars.com typically will offer anywhere from five to 10 times more vehicles than existing sites, depending on the make, model and market," said Mitch Golub, general manager of Cars.com. "That comparison reflects only currently available newspaper listings - and we intend to grow quickly beyond that."

"We intend to expand our unmatched inventory and surround it with relevant, accessible information to remain the information resource of choice for car buyers, sellers and owners," he said. "We want to partner with auto dealers and automotive service and information providers to create powerful new sales and marketing resources for car sellers, while giving car buyers more information and decision-support tools."

Cars.com will provide consumers with all relevant information required to make informed choices in the automotive marketplace. Cars.com will offer advertisers new products and services to better target the emerging online market. Backed by Classified Ventures, a partnership created by Times Mirror Company, Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company, Cars.com is based in Chicago.

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