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Journal Register Co. seeks bankruptcy protection

Associated Press Modified: September 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm •  Published: September 5, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Journal Register Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years and hopes to reduce pensions and other costs through a quick sale of the news company's assets.

Journal Register has 18 newspapers and other media properties in 10 states, including the New Haven Register in Connecticut and The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich. The company expects normal operations to continue during the Chapter 11 reorganization.

Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund, acquired Journal Register last year. An Alden affiliate has posted an initial bid to buy the company at a bankruptcy auction expected within 90 days. Alden has been investing in distress sales of various newspaper and media concerns, including Philadelphia Newspapers, in recent years.

Journal Register, based in Yardley, also operates The Daily Local News in West Chester, among other newspapers. A company called Digital First Media currently operates Journal Register along with MediaNews Group.

In a press release Wednesday, Digital First Chief Executive John Paton said Journal Register has more than doubled its digital audience in the past two years. But he said the company still is struggling with print advertising declines and legacy costs such as pensions and leases.

An internal memo distributed Wednesday and later posted on the journalism website called defined pensions for employees "unsustainable."

"The company exited the 2009 restructuring with approximately $225 million in debt and with a legacy cost structure, which includes leases, defined benefit pensions and other liabilities that are now unsustainable and threaten the company's efforts for a successful digital transformation," the Digital First memo said.

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