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Phoenix Firm Buys Los Angeles Reader

Media: New Times Inc. will merge the weekly paper with Los Angeles View. No purchase price disclosed.

August 03, 1996|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The weekly Los Angeles Reader is being sold to New Times Inc., the Phoenix-based owner of a string of weeklies that recently bought another, the Los Angeles View, the companies said Friday.

The new owners will merge the two local publications and on Aug. 22 will publish a new combined version, renamed New Times.

With an initial press run of about 100,000 copies a week, New Times will still be smaller than the competing L.A. Weekly but will be larger than either Los Angeles View or the Reader was alone.

No purchase price was disclosed for the Reader, but when New Times bought Los Angeles View in June, it was rumored to have paid $1.5 million.

Los Angeles View has a weekly press run of 75,000, and the Reader, which is printed in a stitched and trimmed magazine format, has a weekly press run of 93,500. The L.A. Weekly leads the pack with a 195,000 weekly circulation.

The deal is expected to close Aug. 16, the day the last Reader will appear, said James Vowell, publisher of the Reader. Vowell is a principal shareholder along with Westside lawyer Codette Wallace in Burnside Group, which has the license to publish the Reader from the Chicago Reader, which founded the weekly in 1978.

Many of the Reader's 25 full-time employees will be offered jobs at New Times, and some of the Reader's regular features will be picked up by the new tabloid, said Rick Barrs, editor of Los Angeles View.

New Times Inc. operates successful weeklies in Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Houston and Miami. It is known for investigative articles and for commentary, humor and criticism with an edge to it.

L.A. Weekly Publisher Michael Sigman said he will miss the Reader.

"My main reaction is a little bit of sadness because the Reader has been around about as long as the Weekly has. I'm used to picking it up every week," he said.

Vowell said Burnside Group decided to sell the Reader because it did not have access to the capital needed to fight two competitors with deep corporate pockets. The L.A. Weekly is owned by Hartz Mountain of New York, which also publishes the Village Voice.

"We were looking at being squeezed out of the market by two well-funded alternative weeklies, one in Hollywood [the L.A. Weekly] and one in West Los Angeles [Los Angeles View]," Vowell said. "The people who own New Times want to do a publication . . , and they are going to bring the resources to bear to create in Los Angeles a metropolitan news weekly that's second to none."

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