NYT Story on FNN's Purchase of UPI in 1988

Here's a Feb. 21, 1988 story from The New York Times on FNN's purchase of UPI from Mexican publisher Mario Vazquez Rana:


NEW YORK -- Mario Vazquez Rana, the Mexican publisher who has owned United Press International since 1986, announced Friday that he has sold the right to operate the news service to an investment group associated with Financial News Network, a cable television service.

The change marks a return to U.S. Control of UPI's finances and operations. Earl Brian, who heads the group now running the news service, described the move as "absolutely" vital.

"Getting this thing back with people who are familiar with our culture and principles that relate to the First Amendment is the difference between night and day," he said. Brian was an unsuccessful bidder for UPI in 1985 and waged a legal challenge to Vazquez Rana's efforts to acquire the company.

Brian said he did not think Vazquez Rana, who paid $41 million to acquire UPI from Chapter 11 proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in June 1986, had operated counter to First Amendment principles. But he said Vazquez Rana's inability to speak English and unfamiliarity with U.S. Journalistic traditions were great handicaps.

But Brian declined to commit himself to preserving UPI's traditional role as a general news service. Leaders of the Wire Service Guild, which represents UPI employees, expressed concern that the 81-year-old news operation might be turned into a service with a narrow focus, like business news.

Vazquez Rana did not sell UPI outright, but rather sold Brian's investment group -- WNW Group Inc., for World News Network -- an irrevocable proxy to operate UPI for at least 10 years. The Mexican publisher has given up all management and financial obligations for UPI.