1991 AP Story on UPI's Attempt to Sell Radio Network

Here's an Oct. 3, 1991, story from The Associated Press:


WASHINGTON (AP) - United Press International says it is trying to sell its radio network and has hired a contractor to handle most sports reporting as part of its struggle to stay in business.

The 84-year-old news service said Wednesday it will move its headquarters from Washington to northern Virginia late this year. It also said it will reorganize the way it sells photos and graphics, and will offer a new fax-transmitted news service to radio stations.

UPI filed for bankruptcy protection in August for the second time in six years, and began laying off up to 150 employees last month from the approximately 585 then on the payroll.

The new moves, along with the temporary cancellation of several labor contract provisions granted by a bankruptcy court judge last month, give the news service "a clear opportunity to stabilize itself and reach the financial break-even point by Dec. 31," UPI President and Chief Executive Officer Pieter VanBennekom said in a statement.

The changes are aimed at making UPI more attractive to prospective investors or buyers, the company said.

Spokesman Milt Capps said about 80 employees have been laid off thus far, including management and union-covered workers. He said a "small number" of additional layoffs may come soon, adding, "We will not lay off any more people than we absolutely have to."

UPI is discussing either selling its UPI Radio Network and Spanish-language Radio Noticias or setting up a joint venture to provide new capital, the company said. Capps said the company has considered such a move for a few years but now is holding serious discussions with three possible buyers.

VanBennekom said UPI has hired the Computer Information Network's "Sports Network," based in Philadelphia, to take over daily coverage of sports events in the United States and abroad.

Capps said the move may involve some layoffs but the company's better-known sports writers will remain with the company to provide enterprise coverage. UPI also will continue to use stringers for some sports events, he said.

The company laid off a number of photo staffers last month and said the photo operation would generally involve fulltime editors handling photos provided by stringers and private contractors.

The sports and photo reorganizations provide "a good model for what we will be doing in field reporting," Capps said. The company has said it will use stringers for much of its Washington coverage, although it will continue to keep fulltime staffers on such beats as the White House.

UPI said it will stop selling photo and graphics equipment and service to new clients and will concentrate instead on selling the electronic signal to clients who provide their own equipment. The company will continue to provide equipment and service to those with ongoing contracts, Capps said.

The news service said it also will begin a new service in which it sells photos on an individual basis -- instead of the full photo report -- to customers who may choose what they want from a "menu."

UPI plans to start a new fax service for radio stations called UPI FaxNEWS. The operation is intended to be cheaper than the usual broadcast wire, and clients may choose what type of service they want and how often they want to receive it, Capps said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Francis Conrad, in New York, allowed UPI to stop paying severance to laid-off employees, to hire stringers in place of the staffers it is laying off, and to keep salaries at 80 percent of full pay.

The wire service also announced a number of staff moves. Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Al Rossiter Jr. was named executive vice president and editor, with additional responsibility for corporate communications.

Midwest Regional Editor Robert Kieckhefer was promoted to managing editor, while Washington Bureau Chief Steve Geimann will take on additional duties as deputy managing editor.

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