UPI Story Announcing Purchase by Ruhe-Geissler

(Following is the text of the June 2, 1982, United Press International story announcing the sale of UPI to Doug Ruhe and William Geissler)


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NEW YORK (UPI) -- United Press International was acquired Wednesday from the E.W. Scripps Company by Media News Corporation, a new company formed by a group of U.S. newspaper, cable and television station owners.

Media News Corporation announced it would begin an immediate program to accelerate UPI's changeover to satellite delivery of its news report, and to improve and aggressively market UPI services worldwide.

The name of the news service, founded 75 years ago, will remain United Press International.

Media News Corporation, which is privately held, said it does not plan staff changes at UPI, and that Roderick W. Beaton has agreed to remain as president.

"We believe that UPI is a basically sound company with an excellent staff with high quality news products," said Douglas Ruhe, the managing director of Media News Corporation, in a statement. "In recent years it has been hit sharply by higher communication costs.

"Our plan calls for improved services to customers, vigorous competition with The Associated Press and other news services around the world, and a variety of new services that will begin to generate profit for UPI in the coming years.

"We feel that the greatest opportunities for growth lie in the new technologies, cable, direct broadcast satellite service, low power TV, video disc and tape and computer data bases."

Edward W. Estlow, president and chief executive officer of E.W. Scripps Company, said in a statement issued in Cincinnati, where the sale was negotiated:

"I am pleased a group of experienced media people is acquiring UPI. It is particularly satisfying to know their feelings about UPI has the same deep conviction that E.W. Scripps had."

Terms of the sale were not announced.

"The E.W. Scripps Company has purchased state-of-the-art equipment for UPI over the past five years during a time UPI sustained operating losses," Ruhe said.

Among the recent enhancements for UPI were a $10 million computer, communications and technical center in Dallas, and digital newspicture darkrooms in New York and Brussels. Since 1972, UPI has installed about 500 video display terminals for reporting and editing dispatches in domestic and some foreign bureaus.

"Media News Corporation is acquiring a modern news and information gathering system which is debt free, has a significant positive net worth and adequate capitalization to effect a turnaround," Ruhe said.

"One of the most valuable assets of UPI is the highly competitive commitment of its employees. UPI editors, reporters and photographers have consistently been first in coverage of major stories and developing trends. UPI's record for accuracy is well documented."

Principals of Media News Corporation are Ruhe, president of Focus Communications, Nashville, Tenn.; Len R. Small, editor and publisher, The Daily Dispatch, Moline, Ill., and vice president of the Small Newspaper Group; William E. Geissler, senior vice president-planning for Focus Communications; and Cordell J. Overgarrd, partner in Hopkins and Sutter, a Chicago law firm, and president of Community Cablevision Inc., which operates cable TV systems in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Ruhe, 38, has worked in communications for 13 years, as a reporter, in televison production, public relations and satellite teleconferences. He holds a master's degree from the University Massachusetts at Amherst.

Small, 39, joined the Daily Dispatch in 1971 after working as a reporter for the Ottawa, Ill., Daily Times, and UPI in London and Paris. The Small Newspaper Group includes seven daily and three weekly newspapers in the Midwest and California. Small, a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, was an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1972.

Geissler, 36, worked as a reporter for the Carracas Daily Journal in Venezuela and contributed stories on Latin American politics to the Kansas City Star. He was a reporter for the Springfield, Mass., Daily News while obtaining his master's degree from the University of Massachusetts. He also edited a weekly newspaper in Springfield.

Overgarrd, 48, of Evanston, Ill., is a graduate of the Harvard Law School. He was chairman of the Board of Ethics of the state of Illinois from 1976 to 1980. He is past chairman of the Corporation Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, former board secretary of Family Weekly, Inc., of New York, and director of Cahners Publishing Co., Chicago. He is currently a director of Small Newspapers and of P.R. Care, a subsidiary of Prudential Insurance Company of America.

Focus Communications has been involved in developing new broadcast technologies, including low power television and direct broadcast satellites.

The company operates WFBN-TV, a subscription television station in Chicago. Related companies have won license proceedings in Nashville and Norfolk, Va., and are to be constructed in the coming year. Others are to be built this year in joint ventures with other broadcast groups. The company developed and patented unique encoding systems for application in pay television and satellite transmissions.

United Press was the inspiration of E.W. Scripps, who with his brother founded the Detroit News.

Scripps envisioned a string of penny daily newspapers. His first was the Cleveland Press and he had plans for others but was unable to purchase news from The AP, whose rules permitted a publisher to veto membership to any new rival in his city.

Scripps merged three press associations operating in the East, Midwest and the Pacific Coast into United Press Associations on June 21, 1907. The first dispatches were transmitted on July 15 and UPI now serves more than 7,500 subscribers worldwide.

"I do not believe it would be good journalism in this country if there should be one big news trust," Scripps said after the UP began operating.

In 1958, UP acquired International News Service, owned by the Hearst Corp., and changed its name to United Press International.

   upi   06-02-82  03:43  pcd