Court approves sale of East Valley Tribune - East Valley Tribune: News

Court approves sale of East Valley Tribune

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Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 10:06 am | Updated: 3:45 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved the sale of the Tribune — as well as Freedom Communications’ other Valley publications — to 1013 Communications LLC.

MORE: Judge approves Freedom bankruptcy plan

A federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved the sale of the Tribune - as well as Freedom Communications' other Valley publications - to 1013 Communications LLC.

The $2.05 million sale is expected to close by the end of the March and includes purchase of the Ahwatukee Foothills News, the Sun City Daily News-Sun, Glendale/Peoria Today and Surprise Today. It also includes Arizona Interactive Media Group, which publishes the Clipper, a monthly direct-mail product, and the EastValleyTribune.com, YourWestValley.com and Ahwatukee.com Web sites.

Judge approves Freedom bankruptcy plan

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Tribune will continue to serve the communities of Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek, printing nearly 100,000 copies three times weekly, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, said Randy Miller, owner of Thirteenth Street Media. The paper's Web site will continue to feature breaking news and information every day.

1013 Communications is a partnership of Thirteenth Street Media of Boulder, Colo., and 10K Investments LLC of Reno, Nev.

Miller, who plans to serve as acting publisher at the Tribune and chief of all operations, plans to return the name East Valley Tribune to the front page of the paper.

"We had a strong role in creating the identity of the East Valley," Miller said. "It's our footprint, history and stronghold. The Tribune still dominates in circulation and readership in our area. People in the East Valley are interested in what's happening in all our communities - not just one town. We want to be a unifying force."

The Tribune has been owned by Freedom Communications since 2000. Last year, the paper ceased daily publication, at first offering four zoned editions four days a week and then later reducing publication to three days.

In October, Freedom, based in Irvine, Calif., announced it would file for bankruptcy, and then said in November that it would close the Tribune. Weeks later, the company announced it received a letter of intent from Miller to buy the newspaper. In January, Miller expanded his offer to include Freedom's other Valley publications.

"It was always my intent to purchase the entire group, so I'm very pleased it finally worked out - after a lot of time and effort," he said. "They are excellent, community-focused papers which are at the core of our business strategy. And Arizona Interactive Media Group gives us a solid base to grow as the media landscape continues to evolve."

Freedom said it was pleased with the transaction.

"We are very pleased we were able to find a buyer who has extensive experience in the media industry and who shares a strong commitment to serving the needs of local readers and advertisers," said Freedom Chief Executive Officer Burl Osborne. "We believe this is the best outcome for our employees, advertisers, readers and other customers. The communities we have served will be in excellent hands."

Also on Tuesday, Freedom announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirmed its plan of reorganization. The company is working to emerge from Chapter 11 by the end of March.

Miller plans to expand the Tribune's distribution area to include downtown Tempe and additional neighborhoods in Chandler. Readers will be able to continue to find the free newspaper in racks throughout the East Valley, and it will continue to be delivered for free to driveways in some select neighborhoods.

Because Freedom chose to retain the current Tribune facility at 120 W. First Ave. in downtown Mesa, Miller will consolidate operations and relocate the Tribune offices. On Wednesday, he plans to give job offers to employees at the four locations. They will have until Sunday to accept. Freedom will pay severance to those employees not retained by the new owner.

Freedom will send letters to advertisers to notify them of change in ownership.

Thirteenth Street Media is publisher of the Explorer, a 50,000-circulation free-distribution weekly in suburban north Tucson, and the Telluride (Colo.) Daily Planet, a free-distribution daily.

Miller was the owner of the Colorado Daily newspaper in Boulder until selling it to E.W. Scripps Co. He was also a former executive with Lee Enterprises and Gannett.

10K's principals are Brett Coleman and Arne Hoel. Hoel has been in the newspaper business with Swift Communications for 21 years, managing, acquiring and starting both free and paid circulation community newspapers.

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