AAN’s two largest member companies, New Times Media and Village Voice Media, announced yesterday that they plan to merge. At present, the two companies publish seventeen alternative weeklies, each of which is a member in good standing of the association.
According to AAN bylaws, the memberships held by the six papers currently owned by the acquired company, Village Voice Media, “shall automatically transfer to the new publisher,” until the transfer is either affirmed or rejected by AAN members. If the deal is approved by regulators in a timely manner, the membership affirmation process for the six Village Voice Media papers will culminate at the 2007 annual meeting, which will be held in approximately 20 months. Under that process, in order to remain in the association, the membership of each paper under review must “be affirmed by a vote of one-third or more” of the regular members of the association present or represented by proxy at the annual meeting.
If the merger is approved in its present form, the merged company will own 13.6 percent of the 126 newspapers that are current members of the association. AAN bylaws state that, “The total votes of any single publishing company on any issue (excluding proxies held by such company) shall not exceed 15 percent of the total regular memberships at the time of the vote.”