Director Resigns From Freedom Board

By: Lucia Moses

Traditionally a perfunctory affair, Freedom Communications Inc.’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Friday and Saturday will deal with dissent over its board’s recent decision to explore a possible sale of the family-owned company. This dissent led to the recent resignation of company Director John F. Bitzer Jr., an advocate of family-owned newspapers, who cited a “lack of fairness” in the decision-making process.

In an April 3 letter obtained by E&P, Bitzer, an outside director since 1995, wrote to the board’s nominating committee that he does not “endorse the process” of a special committee that was “unfairly biased in favor of a sale of the company.”

The board had based its decision to explore such a transaction on the fact a majority of shareholders support a possible merger or sale of the parent of The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., and 27 other daily newspapers. Bitzer, a member of the family that owns The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey, wrote that the margin of this support is “razor-thin.”

In a statement faxed to E&P Friday, Freedom’s special committee responded that it has sought advice from top outside experts and has confidence in the process to date.

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