Journal Register Co. Latest Newspaper Casualty

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Journal Register owns 20 daily and 159 non-daily newspapers, serving greater Philadelphia, Michigan, Connecticut, the greater Cleveland area and parts of New York state.

    PHILADELPHIA  — The Journal Register Co., publisher of the New Haven (Conn.) Register and other newspapers, filed for Chapter 11 protection Saturday, joining at least two other publishers that turned to bankruptcy court in recent months amid slumping advertising revenue and circulation.

    The Yardley, Pa.-based company said in a statement posted Saturday on its Web site that it expects to operate as usual during restructuring and didn't anticipate any interruption in business.

    "We intend to emerge from the Chapter 11 process stronger, leaner and more financially viable in the current environment. ... Our business will continue its normal operations and we will publish content as usual throughout this process," Chairman and Chief Executive James W. Hall said in the statement.

    The publisher has been struggling for months with sagging circulation and advertising revenues and a massive debt, which pushed its credit rating into junk status. The company's stock, which traded as high as $23.875 a decade ago, was removed from the listings of the New York Stock Exchange in April and traded for less than one cent on Friday.

    In the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, Journal Register proposed a restructuring plan in which it would cancel its stock and become a closely held company controlled by its lenders.

    On Thursday, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and 26 of the company's 37 lenders agreed to the reorganization, according to the statement on the Journal Register's Web site.

    A phone message left Saturday for company spokesman Edward Yoakam at Journal Register's corporate offices was not immediately returned.

    The publisher reported $596 million in assets as of Nov. 30 and $692 million in debt, including unpaid interest. Revenue has fallen more than 20 percent since 2006, the company said in the court filing.

    The Journal Register owns 20 daily and 159 non-daily newspapers, serving greater Philadelphia, Michigan, Connecticut, the greater Cleveland area and parts of New York state. It has about 3,500 employees, and its holdings include The Trentonian newspaper in New Jersey.

    In December, the Journal Register closed several of its weekly newspapers in Connecticut, including the Pictorial Gazette, the Branford Review, Clinton Recorder, Main Street News and the East Haven Advertiser. Last month it agreed to sell three other weeklies, in addition to two dailies.

    In the court documents, Hall said the recession had placed an even greater burden on an already distressed industry.

    Newspapers around the country have struggled to pay rising costs for newsprint and personnel as competition from the Internet lured away ad dollars and subscribers. Woes in the housing and auto industries and in the job market also have curbed ad sales.

    The Chicago-based Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Sun of Baltimore, The Hartford Courant and other dailies, as well as 23 TV stations, sought bankruptcy protection in December. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis followed suit last month.