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Freedom asks court to OK sale of Ariz. newspapers

MESA – Freedom Communications asked a bankruptcy judge on Feb. 16 to approve the sale of the East Valley Tribune and several other Phoenix-area publications for about $2 million.

Irvine, Calif.-based Freedom Communications Holdings Inc. put the Tribune up for sale shortly after it filed for bankruptcy protection in September. The company said it planned to close the paper Dec. 31 if no buyer emerged and estimated that shutting it down would cost $1.5 million.

Thirteenth Street Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based company owned by Randy Miller, made an offer for the Tribune in November. Miller expanded his bid in January to include the Daily News-Sun in Sun City, the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Glendale/Peoria Today, Surprise Today, and the Clipper direct-mail coupon magazine.

Because Freedom is under bankruptcy protection, a judge must approve the sale, which is contingent on no better offers being made. The motion filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware said Freedom would accept offers until March 5.

Freedom will continue to publish the papers pending court approval of the sale. Freedom will remain the owner of its other paper in Arizona, The Sun in Yuma.

Freedom has said the deal would result in a “substantial” number of employees keeping their jobs. After the sale is completed, employees will be given offer letters from the new owner; those who do not receive letters will be eligible for severance.

Freedom Communications operates 33 daily and 77 weekly newspapers, including The Orange County (Calif.) Register.

Thirteenth Street Media publishes the Explorer, a weekly in suburban Tucson, and the Telluride (Colo.) Daily Planet. Both are free-distribution newspapers like the Tribune.

Miller, a former executive with Gannett Co. and Lee Enterprises Inc., owned the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera from 2001 until selling it to E.W. Scripps Co. in 2005.

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One comment

  1. I certainly hope the deal goes through so that the majority of the employees will be able to keep their jobs. It would be a big hit on the local economy if it was shut down.

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