Ellen Bass 6:20 p.m., Dec. 10
Moody's Says Singleton's MediaNews Almost as Sick as Tribune, Headed for Default
Moody's Investors Service said today that William Dean Singleton's Denver-based MediaNews Group will soon be in default on its credit agreement, and its debt load is nearly as bad as the one that pushed Tribune Co. into bankruptcy. Despite well-known financial woes, Singleton's company has been considered a candidate to buy the Union-Tribune. He has been seen casing the place, has other Southern California papers, and has previously made acquisitions with the help of healthy Hearst Corp. But Moody's says MediaNews's debt is about 8 times cash flow; Tribune's was 9 times. One of Singleton's crosses to bear is the Detroit News. There are rumors that it will join the Detroit Free Press, owned by Gannett, in a radical venture. One or both might end home delivery, except two or three days a week, including Sunday. The papers would try to steer readers to online editions. MediaNews owns the Denver Post. Its money-losing competitor, the Rocky Mountain News, has been put up for sale by E.W. Scripps. Singleton said this week that he didn't think the Rocky would sell. There is only a market for one paper in Denver, in his view.