The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

OC Register publisher Aaron Kushner's latest deal takes on smaller pubs

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The parent company that owns the Orange County Register has signed a long-term deal to manage more Southern California publications.

Freedom Communications Inc. will take over Hermosa Beach-based Easy Reader Inc., which produces Easy Reader newsweekly, as well as its sister publications Beach, Peninsula People and Drop Zone. Easy Reader's owner and publisher, Kevin Cody, said he is essentially “leasing” his staff to Freedom Communications. He said he has 15 employees, including 6 reporters.

Cody, who will remain with Easy Reader, declined to state the financial terms of the agreement or his publications' annual sales. He said Freedom Communications has the authority to hire, fire and dictate content "as the overriding managers." 

The deal comes as Freedom Communications plans to launch a daily Los Angeles area newspaper, called the Los Angeles Register. The new publication will have 6-10 sections and a business model similar to the Orange County Register, CEO Aaron Kushner told KPCC earlier this month.

He said in a press release that the deal with Easy Reader will continue Freedom Communications' mission of "building community" and he looks forward to "expanding the breadth and depth of what we are able to provide to readers and advertisers in coming years." 

Cody said Easy Reader newsweekly's weekly circulation ranges from 50,000 to 75,000. He said the deal with Freedom Communications could more than double that by expanding distribution into Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, Malibu and other coastal communities. Currently, Easy Reader Inc.'s publications are only available in the South Bay.

"I'm very confident we're going to be successful," Cody said.

Freedom Communications has faced challenges in it's drive to expand. The company had added staff, bought the Riverside newspaper The Press-Enterprise and expanded its coverage - but also has downsized staff. The company said about three-dozen people were eliminated from the Orange County Register recently through layoffs and buyouts.

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