Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Family Cash 'Register'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Family Cash 'Register'

Article excerpt

The industry should cheer, not jeer, Freedom Communications' choice of family principles over big-chain principal

The feuding descendants of R.C. Hoiles might have thought that the insults and recriminations were at last behind them when they settled their differences over the future of Freedom Communications on Oct. 14. Their $1.72-billion deal brings in outside investment firms to provide liquidity for family shareholders who want to cash out -- while keeping control of The Orange County Register and its other print and television properties in family hands.

Fourth-generation shareholders especially may have hoped for a little respect after crafting a solution that preserves R.C. Hoiles' unique newspaper legacy into its second century. Along the way they had to endure the kind of verbal abuse that only family can inflict on each other. Dissident shareholder leader Timothy C. Hoiles was particularly dismissive of the so-called G4s: "It was like dealing with a bunch of sixth-graders," he once groused to E. Scott Reckard of the Los Angeles Times.

Now, Tim Hoiles professes himself "thrilled" by the deal. But the belittling of the new generation, it seems, is not over.

Disappointed suitor William Dean Singleton was first to set the theme: These clueless kids are going to get their pockets picked clean by their new investors. The $1.83 billion joint bid -- a pricey 14-times cash flow -- by Media News Group Inc. and Gannett Co. …

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