Thursday, March 19, 2009

MediaNews rating drops...again

As if Dean Singleton does not have enough worries just finding enough advertising, now Standard & Poor's is on his back yet again.

MediaNews has taken another hit at the hands of the credit agency, sinking further into the morass of junk status. This time he's not alone--the Orange County Register had their rating downgraded too.

S&P cited steeply declining cash flow as a main reason for the decision. This can only mean that Singleton and his crew will be looking for ways to cut costs even further. Given that the Press-Telegram has a year moratorium on Guild layoffs and the Daily News has just gone through another round of cuts, there are only a few other pins on the SoCal LANG map for the company to look at.

MediaNews' Jim Janiga however offered some reassuring words recently, telling Daily News bargaining committee members that he could not "see us operating with fewer people."

Singleton had some thoughts to share recently on the situation at the Hearst-owned and Guild-represented San Francisco Chronicle, which reportedly lost more than $50 million last year. For some reason, he thinks it would be a "good idea" if the federal government waived anti-trust restriction and let all the Bay Area papers be owned by one company. Any guesses which company he would vote for?

U-T finds buyer

In other industry news, the San Diego Union-Tribune, on the selling block since July, has found a buyer in Beverly Hills-based private equity firm Platinum Equity. U-T watchers expect that the paper is likely to suffer serious cuts after the takeover and see many of its assets sold off, including a portfolio of more than $100 million of San Diego-area real estate. While details of the transaction were not revealed, U-T owner Copley reportedly sold the U-T for $20 million to $50 million, a fraction of its likely asset value.

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