03-31-06 | Printable Version

Schurz Moves into Michigan with Purchase of Petoskey Daily and Other Publications

Family-owned Schurz Communications closed at the end of March on its acquisition of the daily Petoskey (MI) News-Review and companion publications, marking its first foray into the state.

Schurz, based in South Bend, Indiana, bought the 11,000-circulation daily serving a growing and scenic community on the shores of Lake Michigan, along with the twice-weekly Gaylord Herald Times in the north-central area of the state, a weekly in Charlevoix and two telephone directories.

The transaction was the only one involving a daily newspaper to take place in the first quarter, other than the announced acquisition of Knight Ridder by McClatchy.

Long-Time Family Owners

The Petoskey publications had been owned by Elsa C. Schaller, her two children and other members of the Schaller family.

The Schaller family has been involved in the newspaper business in northern Michigan since the 1930s, beginning with William F. Schaller, who later merged the Northern Michigan Review and the Petoskey Evening News under the name Petoskey News-Review.

The daily is published Monday through Saturday. The Gaylord Herald-Times, which serves the “Golf Mecca of the Midwest,” has paid circulation of 6,500; the weekly Charlevoix Courier has paid circulation of 2,500.

In combination with a number of controlled-distribution publications, total weekly circulation is about 60,000. The telephone books reach a combined 200,000 households in the northern portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Todd Schurz, president of Schurz Communications, said the Petoskey group fit the profile his company seeks of “excellent organizations with strong staffs in attractive communities.

In addition to the recent acquisition, Schurz owns 10 daily newspapers with combined circulation of nearly 225,000, a number of non-daily publications, five television stations, six radio stations and two cable companies.

Northern Virginia Expansions

Suburban operator American Community Newspapers expanded its operations in Northern Virginia with the acquisition of Amendment One, publisher of the weekly Loudoun Today and several other related publications.

ACN, which has sizeable suburban groups in the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Fort Worth-Dallas market areas, established a foothold in Northern Virginia last year by buying two weeklies and companion publications with total distribution in excess of 100,000. With the recent addition, the group will reach more than 200,000 households in the region.

Meanwhile, Reston-based Times Community Newspapers added weeklies in Fauquier and Culpepper, bringing the total number of titles owned by the Arundel family to nearly 20, all of them in the Northern Virginia region.

Of Note

Cox Enterprises and Landmark Communications will split Trader Publishing Co. into two publishing operations: Cox will take the automotive products and Landmark keeps the recruitment and real estate side.

The AutoTrader publications and other automotive products will be united for the first time directly with AutoTrader.com. They had been owned separately and worked together to a more limited extent.

Landmark initiated the breakup of the company, saying it was concerned about being too dependent on classified advertising revenue.

E.W. Scripps acquired uSwitch, a London-based free online comparison shopping service as a complement to its Shopzilla service, a similar operation it bought last year. The purchase price for uSwitch was $366 million.

Jeremy Halbreich’s American Consolidated Media bought the weekly Nueces County Record Star in south Texas, expanding its publishing group around its daily in Alice. ACM owns four other dailies in Texas and Oklahoma.

Shaw Newspapers bought a bi-lingual Hispanic weekly in suburban Chicago to become part of the product mix for its NorthWest News Group. Last year Shaw added 16 non-daily newspapers owned by Lakeland Media to the group.

Journal Register Co. acquired another group of non-daily newspapers in southeastern Michigan to supplement the cluster it bought there in 2004.

JRC added the Suburban Lifestyles Community Newspaper group, with eight editions distributed to about 170,000 homes each week in several upscale Oakland County communities.

JRC’s Michigan cluster includes four daily newspapers and a number of non-daily groups.

The St. Petersburg (FL) Times took its weekly youth publication, Tampa Bay Times, to five days a week. The publication has free distribution of 40,000 Monday through Thursday and 60,000 on Friday.

Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling, West Virginia acquired the Kanawha-Putnam Ad Mailer in the Charleston market area. Ogden publishes 39 daily newspapers.

Gannett Co. bought the weekly Marshall (NC) News-Record & Sentinel, which serves a market near its daily newspaper in Asheville.