'Tribune' Is Gone -- but Scripps Still Sharing Profits in Albuquerque

Article excerpt

With the folding of the Albuquerque Tribune Saturday and the end of the nation's oldest joint operating agreement (JOA), E.W. Scripps no longer publishes a paper in the city -- but that doesn't mean it will no longer profit from a newspaper there.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that received almost no attention outside of Albuquerque, Scripps disclosed that it will continue to share profits from the Albuquerque Journal, even though it no longer is in a JOA with the Journal's parent company, the family-owned Journal Publishing Company.

In an earnings announcement and an SEC filing last October, Scripps disclosed that it had reached an agreement with Journal Publishing to retain its approximately 40% stake in Albuquerque Publishing Company, G.P., the business unit that had been the JOA for the Journal and the Tribune.

"The Partnership will direct and manage the operations of the continuing Journal newspaper and we will receive a share of the Partnerships' profits commensurate with our residual interest," Scripps said in the 8K report.

And while the JOA had an expiration date in 2022, this arrangement is apparently open-ended.

The agreement appears to be unique in the history of discontinued JOAs. Perhaps the closest parallel was the deal struck between Newhouse Newspapers and Pulitzer Inc. in 1983 when Newhouse announced it was closing the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, but would continue to be a 50% owner of the JOA that also published Pulitzer's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That agreement had provisions that could have extended the Newhouse profit participation into the 22nd century, but in 2001, Pulitzer made a one-time payment of $306 million to buy out all but 5% of Newhouse's stake. …