Cleveland Free Times to Resume Publishing in May


March 26, 2003

CLEVELAND – Six months after it was shutdown, a group anchored by former Cleveland Free Times Publisher Matt Fabyan and Editor-in-Chief David Eden has purchased the assets of the alternative-weekly newspaper from Village Voice Media and plans to resume publishing in early May.

The sale late last week of the Free Times name, publishing rights, and other assets has been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice under conditions set forth in a consent decree among Village Voice Media, NT Media, LLC, the Phoenix-based owner of Cleveland Scene, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

“This is a huge win for Free Times readers and the people of Cleveland,” said Fabyan, who will resume his role as publisher of the Free Times and will be chief executive officer of the company that made the purchase, FT Acquisition, LLC. “We will be back on the streets of Greater Cleveland in early May, and will pick up where we left off before we were closed.”

Fabyan said that most of the Free Times’ staff, which includes many of the region’s top independent journalists, have been offered jobs and he expects many to return. The editorial staff will once again be led by Eden. Fabyan said the first issue of the new Free Times will have a press run of at least 60,000 copies. When it resumes business, Fabyan said the Free Times will employ about 35 people full time to start “as well as many more local writers and critics.”

Among those joining Fabyan, Eden and several other former Free Times executives in the ownership group is former Shaker Heights native Arthur Howe, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and a newspaper publisher who once served as president of Village Voice Media. For 10 years, Howe also headed the largest newspaper group in metropolitan Philadelphia, including the city’s leading alternative newsweekly, City Paper.

“I was born in Cleveland and my first job was delivering newspapers for the Plain Dealer,” said Howe. “I believe Cleveland deserves a first-class alternative newspaper, and I am proud that I am among the group who are dedicated to getting the Free Times, a paper I highly respect, back in business. We are resolved to succeed and are putting the resources behind this effort so that we do succeed. This is an historic opportunity in American journalism, it’s never been done before, and I know that Matt Fabyan is one of the most outstanding publishers in our industry and he has an excellent team.”

The dramatic comeback of the Free Times is the result of a three-month civil investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Ohio and California Attorneys’ General offices to determine whether an earlier sale of the Free Times complied with antitrust laws. The parties entered into a consent decree that required the companies involved to divest the Free Times name and other assets previously used in the publication of the Free Times..

One major provision of the Justice Department settlement requires that the Cleveland Scene inform its advertisers that they can cancel ad contracts entered into with the Scene during the period beginning October 1, 2002 and ending April 19, 2003, without any penalty. In essence, advertisers who signed contracts with the Scene during the time that the Free Times was shut down are free to terminate those contracts and to enter into new contracts with the Free Times.

“We want all former Free Times advertisers, and all Scene advertisers, to now know that they are free and clear to advertise again in the Free Times,” Fabyan said. “In fact, we have already heard from many former advertisers who are eager to be back in our pages.”

Matt Fabyan, publisher: (216) 509-8694
David Eden, editor in chief: (216) 752-8040

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