Orange County Register

The Orange County Register was acquired by Digital First Media on Thursday, along with the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Digital First Media’s Southern California News Group now publishes 11 daily newspapers in Southern California, including this one.

By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 04/02/16 – 7:23 PM PDT |

The new publisher of The Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise says the papers aren’t going anywhere.

“Our plan is to keep the Register and Press-Enterprise mastheads local and independent,” Southern California News Group President and Publisher Ron Hasse said Saturday.

Digital First Media completed its purchase of the former Freedom Communications newspapers on Thursday, picking them up for $50.3 million. With the acquisition, DFM’s Southern California News Group now publishes 11 daily newspapers, including this one.

DFM beat out Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, in a bankruptcy auction after the U.S. Department of Justice raised antitrust issues regarding Tribune’s potential domination of the newspaper markets in Orange and Riverside counties, should its higher bid be accepted.

Hasse said there are no plans for SCNG to follow in the footsteps of its San Francisco Bay Area counterpart, the Bay Area News Group. BANG is consolidating its existing papers into two new daily newspapers, the East Bay Times and the Mercury News, which debut on Tuesday.

“Digital First Media puts a great deal of value on the local markets that we own. And each market has its own local needs and initiatives that it needs to follow,” Hasse said. “Just because one entity makes a decision doesn’t mean the rest have to follow.”

But the lack of a similar consolidation doesn’t mean changes aren’t coming.

“We announced to The Register employees (Friday) that their office building, which Freedom had previously sold, has been renegotiated for a shorter term lease,” Hasse said. “Some time in the next year, we will be relocating those employees to another office building.”

Cuts have already been made elsewhere: About 70 Register employees were laid off Thursday as the sale was being completed, most of them in sales, circulation and marketing. Six people were laid off in the Santa Ana newsroom, according to sources there, including Register Editor and Senior Vice-President Rob Curley.

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