Freedom Communications

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Freedom Communications logo

Freedom Communications, Inc., is a media conglomerate that operates daily and weekly newspapers, websites and mobile applications, as well as Coast Magazine[1] and other specialty publications. Headquartered at 625 N. Grand Avenue in Santa Ana, California, it is owned by a private equity firm, 2100 Trust, established in 2010 by investor Aaron Kusher[2] Freedom's flagship newspaper is the Orange County Register, based in Santa Ana.

Ownership[edit]

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.[3] 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 September 1, 2009, Freedom Communications went into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.[4][5] 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.[citation needed]

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.[6]

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.[7][8] The Clovis News Journal and other newspapers in New Mexico were sold to Stevenson Newspapers.[9] Freedom papers in Texas were sold to AIM Media Texas.[10] Its Florida and North Carolina papers were sold to Halifax Media Group.[11]

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. On July 25, 2012, the latter, led by entrepreneur Aaron Kushner, acquired Freedom's dailies, associated non-daily publications and digital properties. The company continued to operate under the name Freedom Communications.[12]

Kushner, who "preached the virtues of local journalism and a print product," bought Freedom in 2012 for $50 million plus assumption of pension liabilities. He increased staff and added new sections at the Orange County Register and began a new daily, the Long Beach Register. In January 2014, however, he announced heavy layoffs in Orange County and at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which he also owned.[13]

Freedom closed the sale of The Gazette (Colorado Springs) to Clarity Media, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, on November 30, 2012.[14] In 2013, Freedom Communications sold the Yuma Sun and the Porterville Recorder to Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers and the Appeal-Democrat to Horizon Publications.[15][16] In 2014, Freedom sold the Daily Press and the Desert Dispatch to New Media Investment Group.[17]

Leadership[edit]

Founder and chief executive officer R.C. Hoiles led Freedom until his death in 1970. He was succeeded as chief executive officer by his son, C.H. Hoiles, who served until 1981, and then by:

Newspapers[edit]

Freedom's newspaper portfolio consists of:

Former television stations[edit]

Freedom folded its broadcast division in 2012;[6] as a result, none of these stations are currently owned by the company:

City of license / 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

Notes:

  • 1 Freedom's flagship station
  • 2 Freedom's first television property

References[edit]

  1. ^ Magazine website
  2. ^ Rem Rieder, USA TODAY 8:11 p.m. EDT June 25, 2013 (2013-06-25). "One newspaper cuts to survive; another invests to thrive". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  3. ^ Freedom Name Change
  4. ^ Peter Lattman, Russell Adams (August 31, 2009). "Paper Owner Freedom Plans to File For Chapter 11". Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ de la Merced, Michael (2009-09-01). "Freedom Communications Files for Bankruptcy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  6. ^ a b Milbourn, Mary Ann (November 2, 2011). "O.C. Register owner sells TV stations". Orange County Register. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ Freedom Communications sells 4 Midwest papers
  8. ^ OCM purchases the Lima News
  9. ^ Freedom Communications Announces Sale Of Clovis, NM, News Journal to Clovis Media Inc.
  10. ^ AIM Media Texas, LLC acquires Texas newspapers
  11. ^ Freedom announces sale of Florida, N.C. properties to Halifax Media Group
  12. ^ "2100 Trust buys Daily Press parent company". Victorville Daily Press. July 25, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Ken Bensinger, "Dozens Laid Off at Freedom Newspapers," Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2014, pages B-1 and B-4
  14. ^ Avery, Greg (November 30, 2012). "Anschutz buys Colorado Springs Gazette". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  15. ^ Yuma Sun under new ownership
  16. ^ Sales of four north-valley newspapers announced
  17. ^ Register owner sells Victorville, Barstow newspapers
  18. ^ Lopez, Ricardo (2014-06-03). "O.C. Register owner to cut staff, merge Long Beach and L.A. newspapers". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  19. ^ Mary Ann Milbourn, "Register owner expands in L.A.", Orange County Register, January 21, 2014.
  20. ^ OC Register parent to expand into Palm Springs
  21. ^ Mediha deMartino, "Freedom to Consolidate Spanish-Language Weeklies", Orange County Business Journal, March 7, 2014
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Media General Puts 31 Papers, Including 13 in County, Up for Sale
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Owner of Orange County Register Buys 30 Weeklies
  24. ^ Era Ending at Anaheim Bulletin
  25. ^ OC Register Ramps Up Newport Beach, Costa Mesa Coverage
  26. ^ a b DiMartino, Mediha (2014-05-30). "Sources Say Freedom to Furlough Staff, Trim Long Beach to Weekly Schedule". Orange County Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  27. ^ Freedom Newspapers Buys Fullerton Weekly
  28. ^ Register Parent Buys 3 Weekly Newspapers
  29. ^ Irvine World News officially becomes daily newspaper
  30. ^ La Habra, Brea Papers Purchased
  31. ^ 2 Dailies Owned by Freedom Newspapers to Run Weekly
  32. ^ Times Mirror Unit Purchases Orange Paper
  33. ^ Freedom Newspapers Buys San Clemente Daily

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°45′04″N 117°51′02″W / 33.7511°N 117.8505°W / 33.7511; -117.8505