The Los Angeles Newspaper Group has begun consolidating circulation functions of its eight regional newspapers, including the Daily News of Los Angeles, in a move to cut costs and improve customer service.

"What we're doing is combining five circulation departments into one," said Jack Klunder, senior vice president of circulation for LANG, a unit of Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc. "It's a restructuring of every process and function that occurs within circulation."

The circulation directors at LANG's newspapers, which include the Daily News, Long Beach Press Telegram, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and several smaller papers, will be reassigned as vice presidents handling specific aspects of group-wide circulation, such as single copy sales or home delivery, and will report to Klunder.

Customer service activities were shifted out of the respective papers to the offices of the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group in mid-December, where operations for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star News and Whittier Daily Press are already consolidated.

A 6,000-square-foot phone center has been constructed in the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper headquarters, where about 60 employees will handle subscriber inquiries, complaints and new subscriptions.

Klunder said no layoffs were planned as part of the restructuring.

That may change at the Press Telegram, where LANG is negotiating with the Communications Workers of America Local 9400 over the future of about 30 home delivery employees. The newspaper group intends to make them contract workers.

"Any change to the system must be negotiated with the guild, regardless of the outcome," Klunder said. "Right now everyone's employed by the Long Beach Press Telegram and will continue to be until there is some conclusion to this negotiation."

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