It’s now official – the Commercial Appeal has a new owner, based in Wisconsin.
As we and others have reported for months, the CA’s longtime owner – the E.W. Scripps Co. – has decided to spin off all its newspaper properties, combining them with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s owner Journal Communications to form a new public company, Journal Media Group.
Shareholders of both companies today approved that transaction, a related piece of which includes Scripps and Journal also merging their broadcast and digital properties, separate from the newspaper company. Those transactions are expected to close early in the second quarter.
The new newspaper company will have about 3,600 employees, operate in 14 markets and be headquartered in Milwaukee.
Scripps shareholders didn’t have to reach too much to vote “yes” on the deal. The company is giving them a $60 million special dividend. The newspaper division has also been an albatross on Scripps’s neck for some time now.
In the fourth quarter, Scripps’ newspaper unit saw its profit tumble to almost half of what it was a year earlier. Things were worse in the third quarter, when the division reported a profit margin of less than 1 percent.