Scripps, MediaNews set to implement joint operating agreement in Denver

Fri, January 05, 2001 by Tim Stautberg

CINCINNATI – The E.W. Scripps Company and MediaNews Group are set to merge the business and production operations of the Denver Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post following Attorney General Janet Reno’s ruling today approving a joint operating agreement between the two newspapers.Scripps, owner of the News, and MediaNews Group, owner of The Post, plan to begin implementing the joint operating agreement Jan. 22 following a required waiting period that ends 10 business days after the attorney general’s ruling. The joint operating agreement calls for the two companies to maintain separate and competitive editorial operations at the News and The Post.“We’re grateful to the attorney general for her prompt decision and will now move expeditiously to put into action our plan to preserve two competitive and independent editorial voices in the Denver community,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, president and chief executive officer at Scripps.Dean Singleton, president, vice chairman and chief executive officer of MediaNews Group, said, “This JOA is about creating a win-win situation that benefits everyone. Our energies are now focused on making this agreement work to the benefit of our readers, advertisers, employees and the communities we serve.”The joint operating agreement between the News and The Post was proposed under provisions of the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, which allows two newspapers in a single market to combine certain business and production functions while maintaining competitive editorial operations. Such arrangements require the approval of the Attorney General.In May, Scripps and MediaNews proposed the joint operating agreement which creates a third entity – the Denver Newspaper Agency – to manage business and production functions for both newspapers. The agency will be responsible for advertising and subscription sales, printing, production and distribution of both newspapers.Leading the agency are Kirk MacDonald, president and chief executive officer, and Jeff Hively, executive vice president and chief operating officer. MacDonald previously was vice president of newspapers for Hearst Newspapers. Before Hearst, MacDonald was executive vice president and general manager of The Denver Post. Hively previously was vice president of newspaper operations for Scripps. Scripps and MediaNews Group are 50-50, equal partners in the Denver Newspaper Agency. The 50-year agreement calls for the two newspapers to continue publishing in the morning in their respective formats, the News as a tabloid, and The Post as a broad sheet.Once fully implemented, the newspapers will publish combined Saturday and Sunday editions with editorial and syndicated features from both newspapers. The News will be responsible for preparing Saturday editions and The Post will be responsible for preparing Sunday editions. The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse media concern with interests in newspaper publishing, broadcast television, cable television networks and interactive media. Scripps operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 broadcast TV stations and three cable television networks, with plans to launch a fourth.Scripps cable television network brands include Home & Garden Television, Food Network, Do It Yourself and Fine Living, due to launch in the second half of 2001.The company also operates Scripps Howard News Service, United Media, the worldwide licensing and syndication home of PEANUTS and DILBERT, and 31 Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com, diynet.com and comics.com.MediaNews Group, Inc. is the nation’s seventh largest newspaper company, with headquarters in Denver. MediaNews Group publishes 48 daily newspapers and 94 non-daily publications in 12 states with daily and Sunday circulation of approximately 2.1 million and 2.2 million, respectively.