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Black Press Ltd. of Vancouver is once again rumored to be making a deal with Copley Press for the Union-Tribune, which has been on sale since July. As I reported last August, the owner David Holmes Black (no relation to scandal-plagued Canadian press lord Conrad Black) was seen at Copley shortly after the "for sale" sign went out, and has been reportedly been seen there again recently. Black Press owns more than 100 newspapers, many around Vancouver, but also in other Canada and U.S. locations. In doing research, I learned for the first time that Black owns two alternative publications, "Monday Magazine" and "WE" that appeal to a younger, anti-establishment audience. A recent issue of WE features a story on "Love, Sex & Kink: Three's Company," explaining polyamory, or multiple and simultaneous sexual adventures. Monday Magazine has an adult section featuring "graphic depictions and text descriptions of nudity and sexual activity." But is this just another rumor about a sale? In late January, Standard & Poor's lowered the Black Press debt rating to B from B+. That's deeper into junk bond status. In the event of default, investors can now expect to recover 50% to 70% of their investment, versus 70% to 90% earlier. I called Black Press to talk about the alternative papers; I got through to David Holmes Black. He confirmed that his company owned the alternative papers, but when I asked about a possible Copley purchase, he said, "I thought you wanted to talk about alternative papers. Good talking with you, Don," and hung up the phone. One rumor is that a deal could be done this week. The only price I heard mentioned is so low I hesitate to repeat it. Warning: Copley sale rumors raced around the company decades before it put itself up for sale.

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Comments

Burwell Feb. 16, 2009 @ 10:44 p.m.

If the U-T put a nude centerfold in the Sunday paper it might just boost circulation substantially, and maybe turn the paper around. It's certainly worth a try.

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2009 @ 6:35 a.m.

Response to post #1: It depends whose nude picture is used. I can think of some people at Copley that wouldn't look attractive in the raw. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Feb. 17, 2009 @ 10:54 a.m.

David Copley is probably crying about this.

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Shadow Feb. 17, 2009 @ 11:24 a.m.

Given the U-T's penchant for using wire copy to fill its increasingly thin feature sections, I don't think we need to worry about them doing this centerfold in-house....

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2009 @ 11:49 a.m.

Response to post #3: Yes, he is out on his $33 million yacht, approaching Cannes, weeping copiously. Best, Don Bauder

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 17, 2009 @ 12:20 p.m.

A centerfold of a hottie would go a long way in reviving the print paper.

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2009 @ 2:26 p.m.

Response to post #4: As soon as the idea came up, I volunteered my services to the U-T as a nude centerfold. I was turned down, even though I offered to pose free. Sigh. Another rejection slip. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2009 @ 3:01 p.m.

Response to post #6: Johnny would like to see a centerfold of a hottie. But we haven't heard from fumber yet. What would turn him on? Best, Don Bauder

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AnotherEd Feb. 18, 2009 @ 10:39 a.m.

Look at the U.K. Sun's famed Page 3 Girl. A bit of tabloid splash just might be what daily newspapers need. (One of the U-T's main problems is that it is boring. It is better than Quaaludes for putting you to sleep -- but nowhere near as habit-forming.) Last year, the randy New York Post and Daily News were the only two American daily papers to gain circulation. (That trend ended this year, but then again, they both upped their cover price from a quarter to four bits.)

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Don Bauder Feb. 18, 2009 @ 11:32 a.m.

Response to post #9: Rupert Murdoch has made the racy format work to build circulation. Trouble is, circulation per se isn't profitable -- accounting for a small part of newspaper revenue. The ads bring in the bucks. And if you jazz up a paper with tabloid splash, you might not attract the advertisers you want. The NY Times, for example, is an excellent media buy for some company selling upscale products. It delivers that affluent, cerebral audience. It might not if it had a nude on page 3. Best, Don Bauder

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