The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 11, 2012

U-T San Diego owner to buy North County Times

SAN DIEGO — The owner of San Diego’s dominant newspaper said Tuesday he agreed to buy the North County Times for $12 million from Lee Enterprises Inc., consolidating his grip on media holdings in the nation’s eighth-largest city and its suburbs.

U-T San Diego expected to complete the purchase next month. The Times is its main competitor in San Diego’s northern suburbs.

Doug Manchester, one of San Diego’s most prominent real estate developers and political heavyweights, bought the U-T less than a year ago and invested significantly in television programming based at the newspaper’s headquarters.

Manchester gave no indication of immediate changes at the North County Times and The Californian, a newspaper serving Temecula in southwest Riverside County, which is included in the purchase.

“We are excited and honored that the North County Times and Californian will become part of our vision” to serve San Diego and Temecula through a multi-platform strategy, Manchester said in a statement.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, said sale proceeds would be used to reduce debt.

“Because of continually changing market conditions, it became increasingly apparent that the North County Times would benefit from becoming part of a strong regional operation,” said Mary Junck, Lee’s chairwoman and chief executive officer.

Junck was named chairwoman of The Associated Press in April and has served on the news cooperative’s board of directors since 2004.

Lee said the North County Times had revenue of $27.6 million in the fiscal year ending Aug. 26. The Times and Californian had combined paid daily circulation of 75,727, and Sunday circulation of 80,920 for the six-month period ending in September 2011, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures cited in Lee’s annual report.

Lee, publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Arizona Daily Star and nearly 50 other newspapers, emerged from a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, allowing it to complete the restructuring of about $1 billion in debt.


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