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March 12, 2008 / Toby Dayton

MediaNews Group Credit Rating Downgraded; Will Two Twin Cities Papers Take A Step Closer To Becoming one?

Last week, as covered by MinnPost, MediaNews Group saw its corporate credit rating drop for the 3rd time in 5 weeks. In downgrading the company’s credit rating, Standard & Poor’s cited concerns that deteriorating financials in 2008 will put the company, which owns the St. Paul Pioneer Press, in violation of its bank covenants. Perhaps more interestingly, David Brauer makes the case that the next logical step for the Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune is to enter into a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) whereby the companies keep their newsrooms separate but combine all other aspects of their operations in an effort to reduce costs. For this to be allowed and not violate anti-trust restrictions, one of the papers must be deemed to be ‘Failing.’ Brauer points out that in the case of the Twin Cities, such an agreement might be the first ever JOA where both newspapers are failing.

[tags]St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Joint Operating Agreements, MinnPost, Standard & Poor’s, Newspaper Credit Ratings, Junk Debt, A B- Never Looked So Bad[/tags]