Bid for New Hampshire newspaper doesn’t add up

It seemed like the Claremont Eagle-Times was set to reemerge after a Pennsylvania family-owned publishing company submitted a bid Sunday afternoon for the local New Hampshire paper.

The Sample News Group agreed to pay $261,679 for the Times, which might look like a lot at first, but is so much less than the more than $4.6 million in debts and almost $1 million in assets the paper’s previous publisher had accrued that the pledge becomes almost laughable.

Sure, David Carr wrote in his New York Times column yesterday that “news is worth less than it used to be in a new digital economy,” but this is definitely getting a little extreme.

But now, the gung-ho publishing group, who also promised to honor the nearly 8,000 existing subscriptions, may not be able to run away with the newspaper. Though there was no initial opposition to the bid, the publishing outfit is now facing objections from the U.S. Trustee’s office, shedding doubt on the likelihood tomorrow’s scheduled 9 a.m. hearing will actually occur. At least Sample News won’t have to wake up early to make it to the Manchester courthouse. Though they may lose their $5000 deposit. Shame.

According to the New Hampshire-based Union Leader, the proposed purchaser — in this case, George “Scoop” Sample — would have also obtained printing equipment and supplies, the newspaper’s archives including copyrighted photos, two vans and a telephone system.

But Sample News Group already owns 10 dailies, 20 weeklies, two magazines and three commercial printing companies, so losing this shriveled publication would probably be okay. Even if the telephone system does sound kind of cool.


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