OC Register to Declare Bankruptcy This Week?

According to a story today in the Wall Street Journal, Freedom Communications, the parent company that owns the Orange County Register and other publications, is going to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. You have to pay to read the full WSJ story, but here's the free part:

"Freedom Communications Inc., the owner of the Orange County Register, is expected to declare bankruptcy this week, according to people familiar with the situation, the latest in a string of Chapter 11 filings in the battered newspaper business.

The company, majority owned for more than 70 years by the Hoiles family, has reached agreements with its lenders to restructure its debts, according to these people.

With annual revenue of about $700 million, Freedom owns the Register and more than 30 other daily papers and eight TV stations. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- a popular ..."

If true, this news doesn't come as much of a surprise. Ever since Freedom had to borrow a fortune from Blackstone Group to buy out recalcitrant family owners and survive the general death of the print journalism industry, the company has carried a mountain of debt. According to sources familiar with the debacle, the only thing going for Freedom has been the fact that unlike so many of Blackstone's other holdings, the newspaper chain at least brings in a reliable monthly revenue, if not profit.

So far there's been no official confirmation of this story coming from the Register, although oddly, the Reg's website does have a link to a story saying that July 2009 produced the highest number of Chapter 11 filings in the past 43 months. You can click here to read that particular story and a slew of predictable comments blaming Obama for this mess.

If true, this news doesn't come as much of a surprise. Ever since Freedom had to borrow a fortune from Blackstone Group to buy out recalcitrant family owners and survive the general death of the print journalism industry, the company has carried a mountain of debt. According to sources familiar with the debacle, the only thing going for Freedom has been the fact that unlike so many of Blackstone's other holdings, the newspaper chain at least brings in a reliable monthly revenue, if not profit.

So far there's been no official confirmation of this story coming from the Register, although oddly, the Reg's website does have a link to a story saying that July 2009 produced the highest number of Chapter 11 filings in the past 43 months. You can click here to read that particular story and a slew of predictable comments blaming Obama for this mess.


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