LOS ANGELES (AP) — A group of managers is buying the Village Voice and all its affiliated free arts weeklies but is leaving behind the online classified site Backpage.com, whose listings have drawn fire for promoting the illegal sex trade.
The buyout by managers is being led by Scott Tobias, the chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings LLC. Tobias will become the new organization's chief executive.
He said he has lined up private financing to buy almost all of the Phoenix-based company's assets, which include LA Weekly and SF Weekly, from the current owners, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.
Larkin and Lacey will keep ownership of Backpage.com. Terms were not disclosed.
Tobias said in an interview that controversy around Backpage.com "has been a distraction, there's no doubt about it."
"This is about two businesses moving forward," he said.
The purchase is being made by Voice Media Group, a new holding company based in Denver. The deal includes all 13 weeklies and their websites, the national sales arm and events such as LA Weekly's Detour and New York's Siren music festivals.
Backpage.com has become the nation's top forum for ads for "escorts," ''body rubs," and other thinly veiled references to prostitution since Craigslist.org shut down its adult services section in September 2010.