HC Bureau Posting on Earl Brian vist

Here's a posting by the Los Angeles bureau after a Jan. 15, 1989, visit from Dr. Earl Brian, whose management team took control of the company about 11 months earlier:


highlights of earl brian's talk to hc buro monday, jan. 15:

layoffs: i'm frankly feeling pretty good there won't be any (more). have plans for the marketplace to expand. i don't anticipate more layoffs. looking at the numbers it looks like decline has bottomed out and we're signing clients faster than any time in the last 4 years.

can't promise no more layoffs. marketplace will determine staffing.

business slots: SOME OF SCHEDULED 40 new regional business jobs may be offered to laid-off staffers, if they are qualified. new jobs will be phased in as report is phased in regionally over several months.


this month we will have 30 new clients in this company. we haven't seen 30 new clients in a month in 5 years.

losing money: "we were losing $2 million-a-month in 1987 and got it down to $1 million in november (1988) and for january, it will probably be in the $500,000 range. on an annualized basis we were down $25 million in 1987, $16 million in 1988. (for 1989) hopefully we'll be about a breakeven hopefully in the fourth quarter we will turn a profit.

newspaper revenues have gone down from $50 million in 1985 to $15 million in 1988. radio and television relatively stable at $27 million to $30 million. corporate has gone up from $2 million to $6 million and management is trying to focus on those areas.

marketing: BY UNBUNDLING PRODUCTS, we're getting back into papers we haven't been in for a long time. signed toledo blade, which we were never in.

areas of least client interest, as shown from surveys: INTERNATIONAL, features, graphics, except weather map. high interest: SPORTS, finance state-regional news coverage. "we shifting to areas they're interested in."

FOTOS: BEGINNING FEB. 1 will begin replacing att fone line system with satellite combo analog-digital foto delivery system that should eliminate $3 million-a-year losses for foto. system will be "addressable," allowing clients to get (and be charged for) only those fotos they want.

upcoming contract talks with work rules expiring july 1: NO specific suggestions. management waiting for recommendations from personnel dept. will negotiate in good faith. "the health plan is out of kilter in terms of what it should be costing." on rumor about two-tier wage system: never heard of it.

buying radio station: LOOKING AT BUYING AN AM STATION IN washington and renaming it wupi. make it an all-news (ours) and make a flagship for upi. can provide better training for radio reporters, generate ad revenue. think can get one for about $2 million.

recession: "i really do" believe upi can weather one.

brian denied two rumors CIRCULATING OUTTA WA:

first, he said it totally untrue that he has loaned upi millions at high interest rates in hopes that upi will flounder et he would be first in line as a credit to take over ownership. he said infotech has loaned upi money "at around 10 percent" interest. he said his efforts to turn the company around belie such machiavelianism.

a source at foothill (remember them?) last week told hc that upi last year applied for a loan and was turned down. brian said that if it were true, it was before his administration took over. he said he has never approached foothill for money for upi and would not do business with them.

second, brian said it was untrue that upi was slowly shedding its general news coverage base et being turned into a business wire. he said upi will become whatever the market dictates it to be, and if that is business then it will be business. however, he said that didn't appear to be the case and there are no plans to make it such.

upi, he said, will continue to "go head to head" with the ap on the big stories.

brian said he was unaware of any lags in upi paying medical claims. when offered an example of one staffer waiting four months without payment, he said he wasn't sure, but that generally such a delay didn't sound out of line. he denied upi was using insurance money to ease case flow problems.

brian expressed surprise at continued logistical problems outta fairfax such as buro's inability to timely get such items as fax paper et printer paper et ribbons etc. he said he had been assured those problems had been solved administratively. he didn't say whether he was gonna do anything about it.

upi 01-17-89 08:59 acs