Freedom Communications, Inc. is a media conglomerate in the United States. It is a news and information company that publishes daily and weekly newspapers, websites, mobile applications, Coast Magazine and other specialty publications. It is headquartered in Irvine, California. It is owned by private equity firm 2100 Trust.
Freedom's flagship newspaper is the Orange County Register, based in Santa Ana, California. The Orange County Register is the 19th largest newspaper in the country based on average daily circulation for the six months ended March 31, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). The Register has won three Pulitzer Prizes. The Register's website is the largest, most in-depth of Freedom's websites, drawing the most daily traffic and unique visitors of all of Freedom's local news sites. As of March 31, 2012, The Orange County Register's home delivery and single copy circulation on Monday through Friday was 161,042. Print home delivery and single copy circulation on Sundays was 280,322, up from 273,751 a year ago.
Founder R.C. Hoiles gained a one-third interest in his first newspaper (The Alliance Review in Ohio) sometime in the 1910s. He and his brother Frank bought many more local newspapers over the next several decades. In 1935 he moved his base of operations to Santa Ana, California, and in 1950 he incorporated his syndicate as Freedom Newspapers, Inc. It was renamed Freedom Communications in 1993. Freedom was operated as an entirely family-owned business until 2004, when private-equity firms Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners acquired a 40 percent share in Freedom for about $460 million. As part of this transaction, Freedom had acquired substantial debt.
On August 31, 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported that Freedom Communications was close to announcing a Chapter 11 reorganization. On September 1, 2009, they did, in fact, do so. The company left bankruptcy on April 30, 2010, under the ownership of investment firms Alden Global Capital, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and Luxor Capital Group. Lenders to the company also retained a stake in Freedom.
The company announced on November 2, 2011 that it would sell its entire television division to Sinclair Broadcast Group in a move to eliminate the company's debt. The sale was completed on April 2, 2012.
Freedom began selling the majority of its newspaper portfolio in 2012. Four papers in the Midwest were sold to Ohio Community Media, an affiliate of the private equity firm Versa Capital Management, in May. The Clovis News Journal and other newspapers in New Mexico were sold to Stevenson Newspapers. Freedom papers in Texas were sold to AIM Media Texas. Its Florida and North Carolina papers were sold to Halifax Media Group.
On June 11, 2012, Freedom Communications Holdings, Inc. announced an agreement to be acquired by 2100 Trust, LLC in a merger with a subsidiary of 2100 Trust. 2100 Trust, led by entrepreneur Aaron Kushner, acquired Freedom's dailies, their associated non-daily publications and digital properties. On July 25, the acquisition of Freedom Communications by 2100 Trust, LLC was officially completed. The company continued to operate under the name Freedom Communications.
Freedom closed the sale of The Gazette (Colorado Springs) to Clarity Media, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, on November 30, 2012. In 2013, Freedom Communications sold the Yuma Sun and the Porterville Recorder to Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers and the Appeal-Democrat to Horizon Publications.
- D.R. Segal (1981–1992)
- James N. Rosse (1992–1999)
- Samuel C. Wolgemuth (1999–2002)
- Alan Bell (2002–2006)
- Scott N. Flanders (2006–2009)
- Burl Osborne (2009–2010)
- Mitchell Stern (2010–2012)
- Aaron Kushner (2012–present)
Freedom's newspaper portfolio consists of:
Former television stations
Freedom folded its broadcast division in 2012; as a result, none of these stations are currently owned by the company:
|Market||Station||Channel TV (RF)||Years Owned||Current Ownership Status|
|West Palm Beach, Florida||WPEC 1||12 (13)||1996-2012||CBS affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|New Bedford, Massachusetts-Providence, Rhode Island||WLNE-TV||6 (49)||1983-2007||ABC affiliate owned by Citadel Communications|
|Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids, Michigan||WWMT||3 (8)||1998-2012||CBS affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Lansing, Michigan||WLAJ||53 (51)||1998-2012||ABC affiliate owned by Shield Media, LLC
(operated through LMA by Media General)
|Albany/Schenectady, New York||WRGB||6 (6)||1986-2012||CBS affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|WCWN||45 (43)||2006-2012||The CW affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Medford, Oregon||KTVL 2||10 (10)||1981-2012||CBS affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Chattanooga, Tennessee||WTVC||9 (9)||1983-2012||ABC affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Beaumont, Texas||KFDM||6 (21)||1983-2012||CBS affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
- 1 Freedom's flagship station
- 2 Freedom's first television property
- Freedom Name Change
- Peter Lattman, Russell Adams (August 31, 2009). "Paper Owner Freedom Plans to File For Chapter 11". Wall Street Journal.
- de la Merced, Michael (2009-09-01). "Freedom Communications Files for Bankruptcy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
- Milbourn, Mary Ann (November 2, 2011). "O.C. Register owner sells TV stations". Orange County Register. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Freedom Communications sells 4 Midwest papers
- OCM purchases the Lima News
- Freedom Communications Announces Sale Of Clovis, NM, News Journal to Clovis Media Inc.
- AIM Media Texas, LLC acquires Texas newspapers
- Freedom announces sale of Florida, N.C. properties to Halifax Media Group
- "2100 Trust buys Daily Press parent company". Victorville Daily Press. July 25, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Avery, Greg (November 30, 2012). "Anschutz buys Colorado Springs Gazette". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Yuma Sun under new ownership
- Sales of four north-valley newspapers announced
- Register Parent Buys 3 Weekly Newspapers
- Irvine World News officially becomes daily newspaper
- Media General Puts 31 Papers, Including 13 in County, Up for Sale
- Owner of Orange County Register Buys 30 Weeklies
- Era Ending at Anaheim Bulletin
- Freedom Newspapers Starts Hispanic Paper
- Freedom Newspapers Buys Fullerton Weekly
- La Habra, Brea Papers Purchased
- 2 Dailies Owned by Freedom Newspapers to Run Weekly
- Times Mirror Unit Purchases Orange Paper
- Freedom Newspapers Buys San Clemente Daily