Denver Post denies report it violated joint operating agreement
DENVER, Colorado ” The Denver Post Corp. insisted Wednesday that it is capable of funding its payroll, denying a report by its rival newspaper suggesting the opposite.
The Rocky Mountain News reported Wednesday that its owner accused executives at The Post of violating terms of their joint operating agreement by borrowing $13 million to meet newsroom payroll from the agency that handles business operations of both newspapers.
The Denver Post Corp. released a statement saying the News story was “full of so many inaccuracies” and that any suggestion it cannot meet newsroom payroll is “simply not true.”
The News, owned by The E.W. Scripps Co., and The Post, owned by MediaNews Group Inc., operate under a joint operating agreement in which they share business expenses in a 50-50 partnership known as the Denver Newspaper Agency. Their competing newsrooms are independent.
Under the joint operating agreement, the newspapers can have newsroom costs covered by the agency, as long as the money is repaid.
The News reported Wednesday that in a Dec. 9 letter to MediaNews executives, Scripps executives said they didn’t think The Post could repay promptly.
Scripps and MediaNews have not publicly acknowledged the authenticity of the letter.
The News said it received the letter anonymously, via e-mail, Monday and that the letter confirmed information provided to the News by an unnamed source with personal knowledge of recent financial statements from the agency.
“The agency owes us money, too, I assure you,” MediaNews President Joseph Lodovic told the News. “We ordered all the newsprint in December ” the agency owes us millions of dollars. Who cares who owes what? Money goes back and forth all the time. All the balances will get wiped out altogether in the end.”
Scripps spokesman Tim King declined to comment Wednesday on the report.
“If such a letter indeed exists, agency management hasn’t seen it, much less been made aware of its contents,” agency spokesman Jim Nolan told the News.
When asked about allegations made in the purported letter, Nolan told The Associated Press the agency has historically not commented on financial matters.
Both newspapers have struggled, as has the rest of the industry, with shrinking advertising revenues. MediaNews has asked unions at The Post and the agency for contract concessions. Scripps put the News up for sale and says it may have to close the newspaper if it can’t find a buyer.
The Denver Post Corp. said if the News is sold, the joint operating agreement would end. The Post would exercise options to buy the rest of Denver Newspaper Agency, which would publish only The Post and become one entity with the newspaper.
William Dean Singleton, publisher of The Post and chief executive officer of MediaNews, is chairman of the board of The Associated Press.