East Valley Tribune may have buyer

Freedom Communications

Freedom Communications has received a letter of intent to purchase the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., and keep the Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper and Web site operating, Publisher Julie Moreno said Friday.

Freedom, which is operating under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code, will seek approval from the bankruptcy judge to complete the sale by the end of this year, she said.

The buyer was not identified.

Moreno said the buyer has indicated it plans to keep a “substantial” number of Tribune employees.

In a conference call with Tribune employees Friday from Freedom headquarters in Irvine, Calif., Moreno said she has not had any conversations with the buyer about how the business will operate in the future, “but it’s my understanding the intention is to continue to operate the newspaper and Web site.”

More information will be announced next week, she said.

Freedom, the parent company of the Tribune, as well as Freedom New Mexico publications in Clovis, Portales and Tucumcari, said earlier this month it planned to close the East Valley Tribune newspaper and Web site at the end of this year.

In court filings, the company said the Arizona paper has been unprofitable for the past two years.

Moreno said the Tribune press equipment will be part of the sale, but it might not include the Tribune building and land in downtown Mesa.

The Sun City Daily News-Sun and the Ahwatukee Foothills News, two Freedom-owned papers the California company plans to continue, are not part of the proposed sale, she said.

The Tribune publishes four print editions for Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek three times a week and posts continually updated news on EastValleyTribune.com.