Freedom Communications, publisher of the Orange County Register, today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company has announced. Its two-year publishing partnership with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the Orange County Catholic newspaper will continue without interruption, according to Freedom executives.
After unprecedented expansion since being acquired by 2100 Trust in 2012, Freedom fell short of revenue expectations and moved in 2014 to implementing aggressive cost-cutting measures including staff layoffs and furloughs as well as reducing the number of newspaper sections. A continuing drag on the company, however, has been the debt incurred during the expansion. The bankruptcy move will relieve that obligation.
According to a story on the bankruptcy filing in the OC Register, day-to-day operations will be unaffected; payment to employees, vendors and partners will continue. CEO Rich Mirman says, according to the story, that the company expects to turn a profit in 2015.
“We’re turning the page and starting a new chapter,” Mirman said. “We’ve gone through a few rocky years and we need to redefine ourselves.”
Mirman, who took the helm of Freedom Communications 12 months ago and has served as publisher of its two newspapers, is leading a group of investors who are seeking to acquire the assets of Freedom Communications.
The partnership between Freedom and the Diocese of Orange will move forward, according to company executives. There will be no interruption in printing or distribution.
Freedom Communications and the Diocese of Orange formed a publishing partnership in 2013 in which the OC Register prints and distributes Orange County Catholic, the official news source of the Diocese of Orange. The paper has grown to be the largest Catholic weekly newspaper in the country. Earlier this year occatholic.com, the newspaper’s website, was launched. In September, a 12-page Spanish language edition of OC Catholic was introduced and is now published bi-weekly. A month later es.occatholic.com, a Spanish language website for that paper was launched.