Deadline set for Rocky Mountain News bids

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E.W. Scripps is closing bids on its Denver-based Rocky Mountain News at the end of the day Friday, January 16.

The company, which publishes dailies nationwide, has had Rocky Mountain News on the block since early December. Also for sale is Scripps' 50% stake interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency, which publishes both the Rocky Mountain News and hometown competitor The Denver Post under a joint operating agreement. The Rocky Mountain News had a combined weekday average paid circulation of 210,282 as of Sept. 30. The previous quarter circulation was 212,872. Scripp's share of the Denver Newspaper Agency's operating income dropped more than 50%, to $5 million, for the first nine months of 2008. 

“What we told the newsroom employees in Denver in December is that the Rocky Mountain News was a unique case,” said Scripps spokesman Tim King. “The rest of our newspapers were profitable in 2008, and the rest are not part of a joint operating agreement as was the case in Denver, so they were very unique. Otherwise, we're working very hard to continue to make our newspapers in the other 14 markets must-have resources for the readers and advertisers in those markets in print and online.”

Scripps has not disclosed any plans for the paper if a buyer does not come through. The current sales process includes both the print edition and rockymountainnews.com, but if a buyer isn't found, the paper could consider an online-only approach. Rocky Mountain News currently has about 230 employees.

King told reporters at the Rocky Mountain News that “a handful” of potential buyers had requested the information packet, but he would not elaborate on their identities. He added that there was no timetable for a decision on the bids, but that Scripps would try to expedite the process.

Broadwater & Associates is helping Scripps in its search for a buyer. The New York-based firm also is assisting the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in its ongoing hunt for a buyer.

The Rocky Mountain News is Colorado's first newspaper and the state's oldest continuously operated business. Scripps bought the paper in 1926.

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