The Hollywood Reporter has fired another shot across the bow of arch rival Variety in the ongoing battle for circulation supremacy among entertainment industry readers.

Later this month, the Reporter is launching an electronic edition of its daily publication in an effort to garner a larger share of the New York-area market.

The special edition will be updated through the evening and distributed to existing subscribers through e-mail that can be downloaded and printed out.

Presently, the Hollywood Reporter plays second fiddle in the Big Apple to Daily Variety Gotham, and the Reporter's new product is considered a way of making inroads into a city that has always been rich with entertainment news and developments.

"The point is that we can stay open out here (in L.A.) once we close the regular daily out," said Robert Dowling, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Reporter. "That way, we can reconfigure it to carry the most current news while making it more 'East-centric,' if you will."

He said the publication has embraced technology to create a product that "combines the speed and efficiency of electronic distribution with the advantages of print, which is the ability to read a paper in a familiar format that you can hold in your hand."

But Pam McNeeley, a media buyer for Dailey & Associates, questioned the relevance of the new offering, given the fact that there's already a no-frills, e-mail version of the Reporter available to subscribers.

"Adweek and Mediaweek also send out electronic updates," she said. "They have advertising on the e-mail, but frankly, as a reader, you blast right through. I don't know if Hollywood Reporter's ads will have more impact."

The Reporter's new product will contain information found in the daily publication, plus updated, late-afternoon coverage from the West Coast that East Coast readers won't necessarily be able to find anywhere else.

The Hollywood Reporter East, as the publication will be known, will also utilize the publication's New York-area columnists and reporters as well as its international network of correspondents.

"We're just pushing the use of technology to allow us to be as fast and current as possible," explained Dowling. "When people come into their offices, this will be on the desktop, and they'll be able to print it out, copy it, forward it, whatever."

The publication is initially being offered to 8,000 existing subscribers of the daily, weekly or the existing e-mail edition of the Hollywood Reporter, which was launched in 1997.

"It will not be sent as spam," notes Dowling. "We're not sending it to people who aren't going to be interested."

The cost to current subscribers would be an additional $25 a year, on top of the $250 annual subscription rate. First-time subscribers desiring the new e-mail product by itself would be charged $270 a year.

(The subscriber list for the daily in the New York metropolitan area now numbers about 4,000, according to Dowling. Meanwhile, total average paid circulation for the Reporter's daily print edition, distributed Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, is 23,443. There are 32,609 subscribers to the weekly publication.)

The e-mailed Reporter, to be launched Oct. 30, will be produced by a separate staff and have its own editor. A separate sales group will sell bottom-page strip advertisements for $750 each.

Dowling declined to discuss the cost of the effort.

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