News-Gazette Media to be sold

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Family-owned Champaign Multi Media Group LLC, an affiliate company of Community Media Group headquartered in West Frankfort, Ill., has agreed to acquire the publishing assets of News-Gazette Media and its related broadcast operations in central Illinois.

The acquisition will include the 23,000-circulation daily News-Gazette and three radio stations: WDWS, WHMS and WKIO serving the Champaign-Urbana, Danville and East Central Illinois areas. The acquisition will also include weekly newspapers, free distribution shoppers and digital websites located in Paxton, Gibson City, Rantoul, Piatt County and Vermilion County.

Dirks, Van Essen, Murray & April, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, N.M., is representing News-Gazette Media in the transaction.

"We are pleased to announce that our search for new owners for our properties has led us to a family-owned company, located right here in Illinois," said News-Gazette Media CEO John Reed said. "Community Media Group shares our values and represents everything we had hoped to find in the next steward of our newspapers and radio stations. We couldn't be more thrilled with this deal."

CMG owns and operates community newspapers with digital websites in several Midwestern states including Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, as well as papers in Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. Those papers have won newspaper excellence awards in every category, including Newspaper of the Year and Newspaper of Distinction awards.

Larry J. Perrotto, chairman of Community Media Group since the company's inception in 1996, has been involved in all phases of the industry for more than 40 years.

CMG President and Chief Executive Officer Mark J. Perrotto, before joining Community Media Group Management Services, owned and operated daily and weekly newspapers in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. From the company's inception until 1992, he was a member of the senior management group at American Publishing's Ohio, Indiana and Illinois newspaper operations. Perrotto also served as director of American Offset, a national network of commercial printing plants.

"Our goal," Mark Perrotto said, "is to continue to bring the top-quality products the readers have come to expect. The excellent coverage of University of Illinois sports, the award-winning news, the commitment to quality features, all will continue."

Larry Perrotto's involvement in the industry spans more than 40 years, first as a principal in a privately held group of 33 daily and weekly newspapers and from 1987 to 1996 as president and chief executive officer of American Publishing Company. In addition, he was president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Sun Times Company from 1994 to 1996.

During this period, American Publishing grew to become one of the major publishing entities in the United States. The company expanded, under Perrotto's direction, in less than a decade from the original small group of 33 publications to 486 publications, including the Chicago Sun Times and the Jerusalem Post in Israel. American Publishing Company became a public company in 1994.

Stressing the importance of close relationships between a newspaper and its community, Larry Perrotto, said, "We built APC into a huge global media company but after all that success we realized our heart and soul was in operating community newspapers and CMG was formed. Champaign-Urbana fits perfectly into our family of community newspapers. We pledge to be strong advocates for the interests of the Champaign-Urbana region. We look forward to actively participating and working for the continued growth of this vibrant community."

As part of the sale process, News-Gazette Media has filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Community Media Group, principally owned by the Larry J. Perrotto and John H. Satterwhite families, is based in Illinois. The company's roots go back to the first half of the last century when Satterwhite's father, Henry, became the publisher of the Bradford (Penn.) Era. John succeeded his father and is the Era's current publisher.

Community Media Group also operates a health and wellness publications and services division based in Chicago.

The News-Gazette was founded by David W. Stevick in 1919. It has been honored each of the last five years with the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Trophy, given to the top newspaper in its circulation division by the Illinois Press Association, and has also earned national recognition during that time from Editor & Publisher, the Inland Press Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors.

News-Gazette Media is owned by the Marajen Stevick Foundation. John Hecker, president of the Marajen Stevick Foundation, said: "Our unique model of local, not-for-profit ownership was ideal when it was formed over a decade ago. The economic realities of today's operating environment, unfortunately, have made it impossible for us to continue as an independent owner. We are extremely happy to have identified a buyer that shares our core values and commitment to quality products."

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