The Denver Post publisher seeks new contracts |

The Denver Post publisher seeks new contracts

DENVER, CO ” The Denver Post Publisher William Dean Singleton has asked unions at The Post and Denver Newspaper Agency to reopen their labor contracts, a union official said.

“We all know the financial situation is not good in the newspaper industry. He referenced that and requested we begin bargaining (next week),” Tony Mulligan, a spokesman for Denver Newspaper Guild Local 37074, told the Rocky Mountain News on Friday.

Mulligan said wage, benefit and job cuts would be sought.

Singleton and union representatives did not return phone messages left Saturday by The Associated Press.

Denver Newspaper Agency CEO Harry Whipple confirmed on Saturday that he met with Singleton and the unions but didn’t give details.

The agency contracts are set to expire in October 2009, while The Post contract is due to expire in March 2010, Mulligan said. The Newspaper Guild represents about 180 employees at The Post and 550 of the 1,050 employees at the agency, he said. Other unions, including the Teamsters, represent other agency union employees.

Singleton is chief executive officer of MediaNews Group Inc., which owns The Denver Post, The Detroit News and more than 50 other dailies. He also is chairman of the board at the AP.

The Denver Newspaper Agency handles the business operations of The Post and the Rocky Mountain News, who are partners in a joint operating agreement between MediaNews and E.W. Scripps Co.

On Thursday, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded MediaNews’ debt ratings to a non-investment grade rating of “Caa3,” which is the third-lowest rating on a 21-notch scale. It based the rating on concerns that advertising sales declines at its daily newspapers would drag on longer than expected.

MediaNews said it still meets the terms of all of its debt agreements. It also said more than half of its public debt and much of its bank debt is held by MediaNews shareholders.

A week ago, Scripps said it was putting the News and its 50 percent stake in the DNA’s joint operating agreement up for sale. It expects the News to lose $15 million this year.

The newspaper industry has been battered by the economy and competition from the Internet, which have combined to sink advertising revenues.

Last week Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other dailies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Information from: Rocky Mountain News,

Support Local Journalism