Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Burl Osborne Named Interim CEO at Freedom, 'O.C. Register' Parent

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Burl Osborne Named Interim CEO at Freedom, 'O.C. Register' Parent

Article excerpt

Former Dallas Morning News Publisher and Associated Press Chairman Burl Osborne was named interim CEO of Freedom Communications Inc. to replace Scott Flanders who is leaving to head Playboy Enterprises Inc.

Osborne, 71, has been on Freedom's board of directors since May 2004.

Freedom publishes The Orange County Register and more than 30 other dailies, scores of weeklies. It operates eight broadcast television stations.

Osborne's immediate challenge will be restructuring the $700 million in debt the privately held company has as a result of a 2004 deal to buy out the stakes of some Hoiles family members while allowing family shareholders to continue to control Freedom. Two private equity firms, the Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners, raised the funds for that transaction.

Big payments on the debt come due by the end of the year. Last October, Freedom disclosed it was not in compliance with debt-to-revenue ratio covenants of its loan agreement.

"We all know these are challenging times for everyone in the media industry, but what is exceptional about Freedom is the strength and consistency of its commitment to its stakeholders and the communities it serves," Osborne said in a statement. …

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