News that the parent of the Reading Eagle has filed for bankruptcy has sent ripples through the Berks County community even as the company seems likely to find a buyer.
“The newspaper and its other media subsidiaries are important to the fabric of our community,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. “Losing them would not only be tragic for the readership and the employees, but would also impact our economic development positioning in the region.”
The Reading Eagle Co, which publishes a daily newspaper and runs radio station WEEU 830 AM, filed for bankruptcy Wednesday while saying it was looking for buyers to take over its operations. Plans could be afoot to keep the local media company in local hands.
According to the Reading Eagle, the company’s CFO, Shawn Moliatu, is attempting to bring together a group of local investors that would keep the media company’s ownership in the community.
"I am in the preliminary stages of putting together a group of community investors and bank financing that I hope will give us the opportunity to make a bid for the assets of the company," Moliatu said in a written statement that the paper published.
He said the company is an integral part of the greater Reading community and needs to be preserved.
The Reading Eagle Co. said in a press release that it had retained a media broker, Dirks, Van Essen, Murray & April of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has met with several potential buyers over the past few months.
Moliatu’s group of investors would have an opportunity to bid on the company.
Owen Van Essen, one of the media brokers handling the sale, told Lehigh Valley Business his firm does expect to find a buyer for the company.
“The market is fairly robust right now. There’s a lot of transactions being completed and we expect a successful transaction here,” Van Essen said.
Peers, said the Chamber Alliance would hope that whoever takes over the company would have a commitment to local news.
“As a community we need to rally around a need for a local newspaper. Any potential buyers will factor in community interest, among other things, in their decision to both buy the paper, and maintain a level of quality in its production,” he said.
The Reading Eagle has been published for more than 150 years. WEEU is a news/talk radio station that has been in operation for more than 85 years.
The company also operates the weekly newspaper, South Schuylkill News; Pretzel City Productions, an entertainment and event division; and REP, its commercial printing subsidiary.
According to the company it has 236 full-time employees and 20 part-time employees.