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Times Mirror auction site growing

Nine newspapers and online publishers join Auction Universe, further proof of newspapers' growing interest in the Net.

Newspapers are getting into the online auction business, the latest example of the industry's shift onto the Web to make money and protect their advertising turf.

Today nine newspapers and online publishers said they joined the Auction Universe network, where people buy and sell goods on the Net. Auction Universe is owned by Times Mirror.

Those participating include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Times Mirror newspapers the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant, the Bargain News, the Sporting News, and Hollywood Online. Each will have a local auction site.

"Online auctions will enhance our newspaper partners' core business by providing additional revenue and an entertaining, productive service for their customers," Auction Universe chief executive Larry Schwartz said in a statement. "We are pleased to become the first auction site to offer national and local auctions."

The group faces stiff competition, however. Online auction sites, such as Onsale, eBay, and First Auction, are booming.

Newspapers increasingly are beefing up their Web sites with more stories, classified ads, and even free email to compete with each other, as well as Internet start-ups and companies such as Microsoft on the Web. They all want to tap a potentially lucrative advertising market online.