Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Vigil at UPI: Search for a New Owner Continues

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Vigil at UPI: Search for a New Owner Continues

Article excerpt

Vigil at UPI

Search for a new owner continues

The vigil by United Press International's bedside goes on, as fervid attempts to cure its financial malaise with new ownership continue.

As UPI rounds the corner into the second 60-day period of pay cuts, increasing salaries to 80% from 75% on July 14--including a previously agreed-upon 3% increase July 1 -- no more is known about the reported consortium of potential buyers than has been carried on the grapevine over the past few months.

The current agreement with the Wire Service Guild calls for salaries to return to 100% on Sept. 15, or upon an agreement to buy UPI, whichever comes first.

In the midst of this, E&P has learned that the Los Angeles Times has scaled back its contract with UPI and is now taking only the L.A. metro wire and the Sacramento and Washington daybooks.

Most UPI contracts, however, allow for a long enough lead time from a client's notification of a change to actual implementation that the wire service would have been able to plan financially months ago. So while financially bruised, the withdrawal would not have been a sudden shock.

George Cotliar, Times managing editor, said the paper had to cut back because of the economy. With limited resources, priorities had to be examined.

"We stuck with UPI through their ups and downs, but it got to a point where we had to look at our own ups and downs," he said, noting he and others at the paper were all pulling for UPI's survival.

It was not an easy decision, and one not taken lightly. Cotliar added. We got to the point where we felt we could survive without the rest of the UPI package."

In addition to its own service in conjunction with the Washington Post, the Times receives the Associated Press, Reuters and others, Cotliar noted.

UPI spokesman Milt Capps declined comment on the company's contract with the Times but he stated that UPI and the industry have been through some "turbulent times" that have in some cases strained, and in others strengthened, its relationships with clients.

In previous comments to the staff, UPI executive vice president and CEO Pieter VanBennekom, who has emerged as the point man in attempting to strike a deal for a sale, said he expected to announce a letter of intent by mid-July. No such announcement had been made as of July 23.

VanBennekom reportedly has been sighted in London by staffers from another wire service, according to sources, and earlier rumors have included the involvement of Japanese media companies. …

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