April 8, 2016 Last Updated 2:51 pm

Gannett gets final approval from DOJ to scoop up the newspapers of Journal Media Group

The acquisition brings in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Commercial Appeal and the Knoxville News Sentinel, Ventura County Star and other papers into the Gannett fold

The US Department of Justice yesterday informed Gannett that it had the go-ahead to close its deal for Journal Media Group. The acquisition by Gannett will add the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as papers in Tennessee, California and elsewhere into the newspaper chain’s fold.

Journal Sentinel Gannett newspaper“The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its investigation of Gannett’s proposed acquisition of JMG, and that early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, has been granted,” Gannett said in its announcement

Journal Media Group was created in 2014 after Journal Communications swapped media properties with E.W. Scripps, with the new Journal Media Group getting the newspaper properties of Scripps, while Scripps got the broadcast properties. The deal looked crazy at first as most media firms with print products were looking to divest print, rather than gather up more properties. But the deal solved a debt issue at Journal Communications.

Then, one year after the swap, the Journal Media Group announced that it would sell out to Gannett.

“The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel remains Wisconsin’s largest news outlet, and with this acquisition becomes one of Gannett’s larger news organizations,” said Elizabeth Brenner, president and publisher of the Journal Sentinel. “We will always be committed to the health and strength of southeastern Wisconsin. We look forward to using the extensive resources of our new owners to serve our readers, advertisers and community partners throughout Milwaukee.”

Journal Media Group newspapers:
The Commercial Appeal and the Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee; The Record-Searchlight and Ventura County Star in California; the Naples Daily News and Treasure Coast Newspapers in Florida; the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana; The Gleaner in Kentucky; The Independent Mail in South Carolina; the Abilene Reporter-News, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, San Angelo Standard-Times and Wichita Falls Times Record News in Texas; and the Kitsap Sun in Washington.

For readers of the Journal Sentinel this may mean their website will transform into the same design used by all other Gannett papers, an unusable mess of pop-up ads, auto-play videos, and the like.

Tribune Publishing executives are likely grinding their teeth a bit this morning. Just a month ago the DOJ stepped in to ruin their deal to pick the assets of the bankrupt Freedom Communications, which would have added the Orange County Register to their holdings in Southern California. Because Gannett’s deal involves properties spread out across the country, the DOJ did not see any need to interfere.

But readers are well aware what the Gannett acquisition will mean for them.

“I have been reading the JS for 50 years….since it was the J and the S. It has been a respected American newspaper and my source for Wisconsin news. Sadly, those days are over as Gannett will “improve” it into their homogenized brand of over-advertised fish wrap,” one commenter said today on the JSOnline.com website.

Another simply said “McPaper is coming to town.”


This afternoon Gannett announced that it was closing on its deal, to become effective at midnight today (or actually, a minute before midnight).

In late day trading Gannett stock is up around 1.7 percent, while Journal Media Group stock, which will stop trading after Friday, is up 7 cents at $12.00 a share.

Here is Gannett’s announcement:

MCLEAN, Va. & MILWAUKEE – April 8, 2016 — Gannett Co., Inc. and Journal Media Group, Inc. (NYSE: JMG) announced today that they have closed the transaction by which Gannett is acquiring Journal Media Group, Inc., including its 15 daily newspapers and affiliated digital assets, which will be effective as of 11:59 p.m. Eastern time today. Following this acquisition, Gannett will operate USA TODAY and 107 dailies in 34 states and Guam, in addition to Newsquest in the U.K., with its 150 local digital and print news brands.

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone as we combine two award-winning media companies with a passion for delivering outstanding news and information, each focused on digital growth across all platforms and devices and being the market leaders in our communities,” said Robert Dickey, president and CEO of Gannett.

“As the largest local-to-national media network in the U.S., this creates a portfolio of more than 100 local markets across the U.S., plus USA TODAY. By expanding our footprint, we further enhance the depth and breadth of our news-gathering capabilities, supported by USA TODAY NETWORK. Together we will grow our innovative products and best practices while providing added value to our consumers and advertisers, expanding the content offerings in our extensive portfolio and increasing the number of local markets we serve,” Dickey concluded.

The closing of the transaction follows the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals and approval of the transaction by Journal Media Group shareholders. With the closing of the transaction, Journal Media Group common stock will cease trading after the close of market today and will no longer be listed on the NYSE.

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