NEW YORK (AP) _ The board of directors of The Associated Press has approved a 2.5 percent general assessment increase for members of the news cooperative, effective Jan. 2, 2000.

The increase applies to all AP newspaper and broadcast members. Changes in circulation, on which AP's newspaper rates are based, will also affect the actual change in weekly assessment for many newspapers.

``This continues AP's record over the past decade of keeping assessment increases at or about the inflation level,'' said Donald Newhouse, chairman of the AP board and president of the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. He said the board continues to work closely with management to keep standards of service high. In 1999, AP completed installation of Y2K-compliant workstations in all bureaus, and AP's small-dish satellite delivery system was switched to a more reliable and economical KU band network.

Newhouse noted that 2000 will be a challenging year for the news service. In addition to covering quadrennial elections and the Olympics, AP will be replacing its entire photo delivery system with faster, more reliable satellite transmission technology and will begin placing a receiving device called AP Server at every newspaper that currently has an AP Leaf Picture Desk.

Newhouse said AP also would continue its program of adding reporting strength to state bureaus.

The Associated Press is the world's oldest and largest newsgathering organization, providing text, audio, graphics, video and technology to more than 15,000 organizations worldwide. AP employs more than 3,500 staffers in 237 bureaus.