Friday, February 19, 2010

Court OK needed for sale of Arizona paper

Randy Miller, former owner of the free Colorado Daily in Boulder, is inching closer to becoming the owner of the Pulizer Prize-winning East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., also a free daily.

Miller has been in talks with the Tribune's owner, Freedom Communications of Irvine, Calif., since late last year. Initially, he wanted to only buy the Tribune, but a new deal that is before the court handling Freedom's bankruptcy calls for him to also buy some of the weekly papers the Trib publishes.

Freedom is hoping for court approval in March. Court papers put the purchase price at $2.05 million.

Freedom said it is selling the Tribune at a loss, according to a report in the Tribune. The chain is losing about $20,000 a week on its suburban Phoenix papers. Miller has said he hopes to keep a "substantial number" of the Tribune's remaining 140 employees.

Miller, who sold the Colorado Daily in 2007, owns a 50,000-circulation free-distribution weekly in suburban north Tucson and the Telluride (Colo.) Daily Planet, a free daily.

The Tribune switched from paid to free in October 2007. But earlier this year owner Freedom Communications entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, which forced the company to either close or sell unprofitable operations. Freedom put the Tribune up for sale, and if no buyer was found by Dec. 31, the paper was to close.

The Tribune won a Pulitzer last year for a series that showed how a sheriff's emphasis on enforcing immigration laws reduced response times for other types of crime.