O.C. Register’s parent company, Freedom Communications, headed for bankruptcy?

Newspapers dying

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,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Freedom Communications, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., is a national privately owned information and entertainment company of print publications, broadcast television stations and interactive businesses. In addition to the television group, the company’s portfolio includes 33 daily and 77 weekly newspapers, including The Orange County Register, magazines and other specialty publications, plus news, information and entertainment websites to complement its print and broadcast properties. Freedom’s newspaper publications have a combined circulation of more than one million subscribers. The broadcast stations – five CBS, two ABC network affiliates and one CW affiliate – reach more than 3 million households across the country,” according to Freedom Communications’ website.

Freedom Communications announced “an across-the-board 5% reduction in base pay for employees at all levels of the company,” in July.

In June, Scott Flanders, the Freedom Communications CEO, quit as he went to work at Playboy Enterprises.  An industry veteran, Burl Osborne, was named interim CEO.

Locally, the O.C. Register recently announced that the L.A. Times would be delivering their newspapers.

The O.C. Register is one of Santa Ana’s largest employers.  Senior employees have been encouraged to retire over the past few years and many have been laid off as well.  There is no telling what this bankruptcy filing will portend – but it will give the Register’s parent company time to reorganize its debt and try to figure out how to survive going forward.

The biggest change will be in management.  “Freedom’s lenders, which hold roughly $770 million in debt, are expected to take control of the company as it operates under bankruptcy protection. They include J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., SunTrust Banks and Union Bank of California.”

Many members of the Hoiles family are actually going to have to get jobs now, according to the Wall St. Journal.  Good!  No one should get a free ride in this economy.

I wonder if this ultimately means that the Register will abandon their Libertarian bent?  I would bet on it.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.