At long last, it’s a done deal.
The newly minted Philadelphia Media Network today finalized its acquisition of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — allowing the newspapers and Website to formally emerge from bankruptcy.
The sale marks the end of a 20-month long bankruptcy proceeding that began when debt-saddled former owners Philadelphia Newspapers LLC filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in February 2009. The senior lenders who financed the papers’ purchase several years ago bought the properties in a bankruptcy auction for approximately $139 million. As part of that sale, the prospective new owners also had to reach new labor agreements with the two papers’ 14 unions, an arduous process that was completed last week when a deal was struck with the union that represents the papers’ mailers.
"We are pleased to finally begin operating the newspapers and Philly.com, and we believe that the company has tremendous potential as we build out our brands in the great city of Philadelphia, the fourth largest media market in the nation," Publisher and CEO Gregory Osberg said in a statement. "We are committed to the long-term growth of the newspapers and the Website, and can't wait to get started.”
Osberg, the former president and publisher of Newsweek, also served as president/CEO of Buzzwire, a Denver-based company that was ahead of the curve in providing news, data and streaming media over mobile phones. A major proponent of digital media, Osberg told E&P in June that the online side would receive renewed emphasis going forward.
“What I would like to see in the future is a company that places its digital strategy on equal footing with the print strategy as we begin to explore our options,” Osberg said. “In the past, most magazine and newspaper companies have allowed digital to take a back seat to print in their planning due to the size of its revenue and profit contributions. We’ll be considering both simultaneously as we begin planning and executing our new strategy.
“There are many applications for smartphones and location-based technologies that I want us to explore so that we can offer consumers in the Philadelphia area content and commerce opportunities that are targeted to who they are, where they are and what they want,” he added. “E-tablets are new to the scene, but it’s an exciting technology that will allow us to test various paid subscription models for content. I believe it will be a fast-growing market but it will trail the mobile audience significantly.”
Robert J. Hall, the former publisher of the Inquirer and Daily News, will serve as the Philadelphia Media Network’s chief operating officer.