Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Who Owns the News Media

Embedded in The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual State of the News Media is an interactive database of companies than own news media properties in the US. This database is meant to be a tool for generating  reports on statistical and audience sector data related to media company ownership. 

Their methodology is as follows:

The goal...was to create a tool that aggregated comparative information on the companies that own news media properties. We wanted to do this within each media sector as well as more broadly across news media over all. To do this, we took several steps. First, we identified the various U.S.-based companies within each media sector. In some cases, the list is so long that we determined a cut-off point for which companies to include. The newspapers sector, for example, includes all companies with a total weekday circulation of 100,000 or more. Next, we looked for relevant statistical data that were available for most companies and could be compared from one company to the next. Some data are compared within the media sector and other data, like total revenues, can be compared across all companies.
Try it on for size.  Highlights from a recent report generated from this year's data include:
  • In transactions other than the Buffett deal with Media General, The New York Times Company sold 14 daily newspapers to Halifax Media and Journal Register Company (with 20 dailies) was acquired by one of its investors, Alden Global Capital. The Times Company's sale of its Regional Newspaper Group left it with only three remaining dailies, the flagship New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
  • The Chicago Sun Times was sold to a new company called Wrapports LLC, an organization led by technology executive Michael Ferro Jr. and former Newsday publisher Timothy Knight.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune was sold in November 2011 by the private equity firm Platinum Equity, which bought it in 2009, to a company owned by a local hotel developer.
  • Freedom Communications announced on June 11 the sale of its remaining dailies, including the Orange County Register (163,000 print circulation) to the investment group 2001 Trust LLC. That sale ended the company's almost 80-year history as a newspaper publisher. And as was the case with Journal Register, Freedom had recently emerged from bankruptcy protection.
  • Once known as the crown jewel of the now defunct Knight Ridder chain, The Philadelphia Inquirer (along with its sister Philadelphia Daily News) was sold in April for the fourth time in six years. A group of local businessmen bought the company for a reported $55 million, roughly 10% of the $515 million the papers fetched in 2006 when they were purchased by another group of local investors led by advertising executive Brian Tierney.
  • Hedge Fund Company Alden Global Capital bought the Journal Register Company with twenty papers including the New Haven Register (CT), the Oakland Press (MI) and the Daily Times (PA). Alden Global has also invested in several other newspaper organizations.
  • Versa Capital Management, which purchased a number of small dailies in Ohio in 2011, acquired the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in March of 2012.

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