Let’s say Pat Purcell sells Community Newspaper Co. and keeps the Boston Herald. According to Steve Bailey’s sources, the deal for CNC plus The Patriot Ledger of Quincy and The Enterprise of Brockton could bring $370 million to $400 million. That’s a lot of money.
Now, Purcell doesn’t own The Ledger or The Enterprise. But I’m guessing that most of that money would go to Purcell, given that CNC comprises about 100 papers in communities that are, for the most part, more affluent than those served by The Ledger or The Enterprise. So it sounds like Purcell stands to make a very nice profit, given that he paid a reported $150 million for CNC about five years ago.
So what’s next? Keep an eye on this column by Greg Gatlin, which appeared in the Herald on Thursday. In it, Gatlin calls for a loosening of FCC regulations that currently prohibit one person or corporation from owning a radio or TV station and a daily newspaper in the same market. Such a loosening almost happened two years ago, but Congress and the courts put the kibbosh on the FCC’s deregulatory frenzy. Now that the furor has died down, the FCC might try again.
At one time Purcell was talking about some sort of deal with Brad Bleidt, the former owner of WBIX Radio (AM 1060), now playing keyboards in a prison rock band. And certainly it doesn’t hurt the Herald that many of its marquee personalities are on the radio: Gerry Callahan, Steve Buckley, Mike Felger, Margery Eagan, Howie Carr, Cosmo Macero and the Tracksters. (Am I missing anyone?) At the same time, though, it must gall Purcell that he has no control over any of this.
This is the kind of synergy that could work. I doubt too many folks who read Purcell’s Wellesley Townsman want the neighbors to notice that they’ve got a Herald on their front doorstep. On the other hand, an aggressive urban tabloid and an in-your-face radio operation make perfect sense. And Purcell may soon have the money to make it happen.