Stockholders OK Providence Sale p.8

By: JOHN CONSOLI AH. BELO CORP., parent company of the Dallas Morning News, has no plans to sell the Providence Journal-Bulletin, the lone newspaper it acquired along with nine television stations in its $1.5 billion acquisition of the Providence Journal Co.
The deal was approved by stockholders of both companies on Feb. 19. Ninety-one percent of the votes of Belo shares outstanding were cast in favor of the issuance of up to 25.6 million shares of Series A Common Stock in connection with merger.
Over 71% of the votes of the Journal Co. shares outstanding were cast in favor of the terms of the merger.
Since the merger was announced last fall, some analysts and media watchers had speculated that Belo, which already owned seven network-affiliated TV stations, wanted only the TV stations and might sell the Providence newspaper because it is not in a geographic market where Belo owns properties.
However, Burl Osborne, president of Belo's publishing division and publisher of the Morning News, bristled at the suggestion and said that not only would Belo retain the paper, but that it was a key consideration in the acquisition.
"We have known the people in Providence for many years," said Osborne, who serves on the Associated Press board of directors with Providence Journal Co. chairman and CEO Stephen Hamblett.
When the Providence owners realized they would have a hard time surviving and decided to put the company up for sale, a big concern was that the newspaper would be taken over by a company that would ensure its continued quality.
That concern led to "common interest" discussions with Belo last August. An agreement in principle was announced a month later.
Osborne said Belo was indeed interested in the nine TV stations, but was also interested in the newspaper.

Continuity Concern
"It is my belief that one of the issues important to them was that the history and future of the Providence Journal-Bulletin would be ensured," Osborne said.
"I am hoping we will be able to extend, nurture and perpetuate the journalistic quality and the community service that have marked its history," he said.
Osborne said Hamblett will continue as CEO of Providence Journal Co. and publisher of the Journal-Bulletin, and all other officers at the newspaper are "staying in place."
"I hope they will all continue," he said, adding that the paper "will run as it has been run."
Osborne said Belo will sell its KIRO-TV, a UPN-affiliated station in Seattle-Tacoma, and will keep the Seattle TV station it acquired from the Journal Co.

Belo also agreed in principle last week to acquire the Gleaner and Journal Publishing Co. of Henderson, Ky., from the Dear Family.
The purchase includes the Gleaner in Henderson and seven weeklies, six in Kentucky and one in Portland, Tenn.
The Gleaner has a daily circulation of 11,690, 13,887 Sunday.
Gleaner and Journal assets also include Audobon Printers in Henderson; Digital Graphics in Evansville, Ind.; WFKN-AM in Franklin, Ky.; two telephone directories; and three commercial printing operations.
The Gleaner is located near Owensboro, Ky., where Belo owns the Messenger-Inquirer. Due to the close proximity of the two newspapers, it is expected that the sale will need the approval of government antitrust regulators.
The Gleaner was founded in 1885, two years after the Journal. They merged in 1920 and have been owned by the Dear family since 1957.
Commenting on future acquisition plans, Osborne referred to Belo as "a hybrid company. We have a lot of broadcast and a smaller number of newspapers. We have a significant presence in both areas. We are not trying to grow for the sake of growing. We are looking for discrete franchise areas that offer growth potential, where we can advance the notion of journalism service to the community."
In the immediate future, Osborne said, Belo needs to "assimilate" its most recent acquisitions.
"Right now," he said, "we're not out there looking."
?(Before looking to buy other media properties, Belo has
to assimilate a sizable acquisition, says Burl Osborne, president of the
publishing division and publisher of the Dallas Morning News ) [Photo & Caption]


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