Newspapers facing shut-down


Two Connecticut cities could be without a daily newspaper two months from now. Unless a buyer is found by January 12th, Journal Register Company says it will be forced to shut down The Herald in New Britain and the Bristol Press, along with 11 weekly newspapers.

Journal Register has been ailing for some time. It was delisted by the NYSE and its stock has lately traded on the pink sheets for a penny per share, down from a high of $22.50 in April 1998. The company reported a Q3 loss of $8.7 million as ad revenues dropped 13% from a year ago.

Its biggest newspaper, the New Haven Register, and many others are still making money. But with times so tough, Journal Register has decided that the weakest must be sold or shut down.

As reported by the company’s own newspapers, Edward Gunderson, the publisher of the 13 publications now on the chopping block, sent a memo to staffers informing them that the papers were being put up for sale and “in the event that there is no buyer, then we anticipate the facility will be shut down.”

Both New Britain and Bristol are southwest of Hartford. The New Britain daily has a circulation of 8,940 and the Bristol one 8,047. A combined Sunday edition has a circulation of 19,016.

RBR/TVBR observation: While there have been numerous situations of a city’s #2 daily shutting down in recent years, this is the first time we can recall hearing of plans to shutter a market monopoly daily – and two of them no less. But staffing, printing and distributing a daily newspaper is a high overhead business, so we are likely to see others drop below the point where revenues can cover expenses. No matter how bad business gets, very few broadcasters are likely to get into a position where there market value falls to zero or less.