Landmark Communications to Get 100% Ownership of Capital-Gazette Newspapers

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By: E&P Staff

Landmark Communications will become 100% owners of Capital-Gazette Newspapers, publisher of The Capital in Annapolis, Md., following Monday’s announcement that the Merrill family will transfer its controlling ownership stake to the Norfolk, Va.-based chain.

Landmark has been a partner in Capital-Gazette since 1975.

A Landmark announcement Monday said the ownership change was negotiated after last year’s death of Capital Publisher Philip Merrill. The papers had been controlled by the Merrill family for nearly four decades.

Landmark and Eleanor Merrill said that in exchange for the transfer of the newspaper group, the Merrill family will obtain full ownership of The Washingtonian magazine. Eleanor Merrill will become chairman of its board and her daughter, Catherine Merrill Williams, will become the magazine’s new publisher.

Included in the deal are the Capital’s sibling papers in Maryland: the Maryland Gazette; Bowie Blade-News; Crofton News-Crier; West County Gazette; and South County Gazette.

James Brown will remain president and CEO of Capital-Gazette Newspapers and Eleanor Merrill will stay on in a consulting role, Landmark said.

Family-owned Landmark’s newspapers include The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk; the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record; The Roanoke (Va.) Times,; and about 50 Landmark Community Newspapers. Landmark’s broadcast and cable holdings include The Weather Channel, and network affiliated TV stations in Las Vegas and Nashville, Tenn.

“There will always be an indelible Merrill imprint on Capital-Gazette Newspapers and we will strive to uphold the high standards they have set,” Landmark Chairman and CEO Frank Batten Jr. said in a statement.

“Phil and I were blessed to have had a strong and personal relationship with Landmark Communications for 32 great years,” Eleanor Merrill said in a statement. “Although this decision has been a difficult one for me, I am confident that Landmark will preserve the traditions that have made our newspapers such an integral part of their communities.”

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