Eastbay Express Publishing LP, an entity controlled by former Express owner Village Voice Media, has reached a settlement with two of the paper's current owners to settle a suit VVM filed earlier this year. The suit alleged that Hal Brody and Express editor Stephen Buel still owed VVM $500,000 under the terms of the 2007 deal in which the paper was sold. Brody and VVM executive vice president Scott Spear say the parties have resolved that dispute and all other issues raised by the two parties in connection with the transaction. "We are pleased to have been able to reach an agreement satisfactory to both parties," Brody says in a statement. "It puts aside this distraction so we can all concentrate on running our daily business."

Continue ReadingFormer, Current Owners of East Bay Express Resolve Differences

Eastbay Express Publishing LP, an entity controlled by former Express owner Village Voice Media, has filed suit against two of the alt-weekly's current owners, Hal Brody and Stephen Buel, claiming they owe $500,000 under the terms of the 2007 deal in which the paper was sold. Brody admits they owe the money but says their debt is exceeded by the damage they suffered as a result of VVM's violation of a non-compete clause included in the original agreement. "The SF Weekly [also owned by VVM] is not supposed to solicit our advertisers in Alameda and Contra Costa, and they've been doing it, over and over," Brody tells the San Francisco Bay Guardian. "We have massive claims against them for violating those terms." But VVM's attorney disagrees: "(VVM) is not aware that it has violated the terms of any its agreements with the current publisher of the East Bay Express or with Mr. Brody or Mr. Buel," Randall S. Farrimond says. "We believe that any judge or jury who reviews the facts of this matter will conclude that Mr. Brody and Mr. Buel owe us the amounts stated in our complaint." More from the Express.

Continue ReadingVVM Sues Owners of East Bay Express

Express president Hal Brody tells the Berkeley Daily Planet that the paper's circulation manager saw two men in a white van stealing free circulation newspapers from street racks on Wednesday morning and made a citizen's arrest. After the Berkeley police arrived and processed the arrest, the two suspects were charged with theft of free publications, driving on the wrong side of the road and driving with expired plates.

Continue ReadingEast Bay Express Circ Manager Nabs Newspaper Thieves

In a story on the increased theft of curbside refuse and free newspapers, the Associated Press reports that legislation being considered in California "would make large-scale, anonymous recycling more difficult." The legislation, which was championed by the East Bay Express, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and other Bay Area publishers, would force recyclers to require a photo ID for anyone bringing in more than $50 worth of cans, bottles or newspapers and to pay the poachers with checks rather than cash. The AP also notes that the Express hired an ex-police detective to stake out thieves and began retrofitting curbside news boxes to make them theft-resistant. "We don't want to be spending all our energy printing papers that people take directly to the recyclers," Express president Hal Brody says.

Continue ReadingStates and Publishers Fight Theft of Free Newspapers

AB 1778, sponsored by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, passed the California Assembly by a vote of 45-24 on May 22 and is now headed to the State Senate, the Berkeley Daily Planet reports. The law would require recycling companies to identify those who bring recyclables and newspapers worth $50 or more to sell. "This should give us the ability to cut off the [poachers'] money supply," East Bay Express publisher Hal Brody says, since a full pick-up load of newsprint usually fetches $80 to $100. The Express, along with the San Francisco Bay Guardian and other Bay Area publications, has been pushing for more action on newspaper theft in the wake of a rash of heists.

Continue ReadingCalifornia Legislation Targets Free Newspaper Thieves

A rash of free newspaper heists is "making unlikely allies of Bay Area alternative publishers, whose intense competition over the years has seemed as much personal as a matter of business," Editor & Publisher reports. East Bay Express publisher Hal Brody has organized a group of free-paper publishers that is taking the thieves on with a two-front strategy: finding an aggressive DA who recognizes the real value of a free-circulation newspaper, and going after the recyclers who look the other way, according to E&P. Brody says he wasn't aware how bad the problem was until he and others bought the Express from Village Voice Media last year. "In one heavily trafficked area, where we lay out literally thousands of papers at dawn, we'd get calls from readers at noon that there were all gone," he says.

Continue ReadingBay Area AAN Members Act to Fight Newspaper Theft

A recent surge in newspaper theft has a coalition of Bay Area newspapers -- including the East Bay Express and the San Francisco Bay Guardian -- asking local authorities to help pursue thieves both on the street and at the recycling businesses where they fence the stolen goods, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. The Express is doing more than just asking cops for help, though. The Planet reports that after complaints to local police failed to result in the apprehension of a man repeatedly seen stealing papers, the alt-weekly hired a private investigator. On his first night out, the private eye caught the thief with more than 500 copies of the Express -- and nearly as many Bay Guardians -- in his truck. Express publisher Hal Brody says that stopping the thefts will take more than arresting street-level thieves -- rather, he thinks cops need to target the recycling businesses that accept the contraband. A meeting between Oakland police and local publishers to discuss how to stem the tide of theft is planned for the near future, the Planet reports.

Continue ReadingBay Area Papers Try to Combat Wave of Free Paper Theft

As the dust settles from Village Voice Media's sale of the Express to a consortium of independent owners, a clearer picture of the new paper is emerging. The Berkeley Daily Planet reports that former Pitch Weekly publisher Hal Brody is the paper's majority owner, with 51 percent of the stock. Brody tells the Bay Guardian that, in addition to himself, editor Stephen Buel and Monterey County Weekly's Bradley Zeve, there are three out-of-town investors in the paper. He also says that the Express' joint ad sales agreement with VVM's SF Weekly will continue "indefinitely," and that the paper will continue to be represented in national ad sales by Ruxton. Meanwhile, Buel tells the Daily Planet that VVM "doesn't do well in places with competition." He adds: "If you look at the paper in the past year or so, you will see that it has gotten a lot thinner ... they didn't do well here." Buel also says that while the Express remains a defendant in the Bay Guardian's predatory pricing lawsuit, VVM agreed to assume all responsibility for the litigation. Finally, Buel writes on the Express' blog that more changes are afoot: a 5,000 bump in circulation and a tightening of the distribution area. He says the new owners also plan to address "changes to the format and design of the newspaper [that] made it a far less hospitable home for small advertisers, and placed limits on our community news coverage."

Continue ReadingMore Details Reported About East Bay Express Deal

In a press release issued this afternoon, Village Voice Media says it is selling its Emeryville-based paper to an investment group led by current editor Stephen Buel, AAN veteran Hal Brody, and Express co-founder Kelly Vance. Monterey County Weekly founder and CEO Bradley Zeve is also one of the investors. Brody, who owned Pitch Weekly in Kansas City until he sold it to New Times in 1999, will take over as publisher. The Express, which was founded in 1978, has been owned by New Times/VVM since 2001. "It's great that Hal and Steve will be taking over the Express," VVM chief executive officer Jim Larkin says. "They are amazingly talented people who will devote themselves to continuing the paper's excellence." Editing the Express "is the best job I've ever had," Buel says. "It will be an honor to build upon the legacies left by the founders and Village Voice Media."

Continue ReadingGroup of Alt-Weekly Vets to Buy East Bay Express