News organizations MediaNews Group and 21st Century Media, formerly bankrupt Journal Register Co., are merging.

MediaNews, headquartered in Denver, operates publications in California, Colorado, Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New England. Fairless Hills, Pa.-based 21st Century has publications in Philadelphia, Detroit, Connecticut, Cleveland and New York.

Both companies are managed by Digital First Media a New York group that manages about 800 media products in 18 states. The deal is expected to close in 30 days.

On April 5, the Journal Register was sold to CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of Alden Global Capital, which bought it in June 2011. The buyer acted as the Journal Register’s stalking-horse bidder for an auction, and bought the Journal Register for about $121 million.

The Journal Register sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 5 for the second time. It exited from a previous bankruptcy case in 2009 with $225 million in debt, defined pension obligations and lease costs that it says in court papers, are unsustainable.

Alden purchased the company for $10 per share in June 2011.

After its 2009 exit, the Journal Register switched its focus to digital content under management company Digital First. That switched caused a decline in print advertising, the company’s main revenue source, according to court papers.

From 2009 to 2011, revenue from print advertising declined 17 percent, while for the Journal Register, it dropped 19 percent, according to the Newspaper Association of America and court papers.

For more on Digital First and the Journal Register, see “Digital, First.” 

 

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