The Baton Rouge Advocate has been sold to a wealthy Louisiana businessman, John Georges, ending over 100 years of ownership by the
Manship family. According to a report in The Advocate, the deal includes the newspaper’s digital operations, but not WBRZ-TV, a local ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge also owned by the
Manships. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal follows almost two years of negotiations between the Manships and Georges, who made his fortune leading a family-owned trucking business and has taken a leading civic role in Louisiana, including running for governor in 2007 and mayor of New Orleans in 2010.
The Advocate continues to expand aggressively in the nearby New Orleans market, bereft of a daily paper since The Times-Picayune cut its publication schedule to three days a week in October of last year. The Advocate launched a daily New Orleans edition to fill this void.
Although figures were not available in the most recent report from the Alliance for Audited Media, according to the
publisher, The Advocate has seen weekday print circulation increase from 76,263 in March 2012 to around 100,000 currently, with around a fifth of that coming from New Orleans.
Meanwhile, Advance Publications revealed plans to begin publishing a tabloid-format newspaper on three of the four days when it no longer publishes its regular broadsheet newspaper. The tabloid-format paper, TPStreet, will focus on breaking news, sports and entertainment. It will cost $0.75 per copy, will only be sold in the New Orleans metropolitan area, and will not be available for home delivery. However, it will be available to subscribers in a digital format.
Advance’s decision to cut The Times-Picayune's publication schedule, as well as the schedules of three other newspapers in Alabama, met a storm of protest when it was announced in May 2012. Local civic leaders, businesspeople and celebrities formed the “Times-Picayune Citizens' Group,” which set itself a mission to “ensure the continuation of the delivery of a high quality, seven-day-a-week newspaper, with access to the entire community.”
However, these protests -- along with demands that Advance sell the newspaper to another publisher that would commit to continuing daily publication -- were rebuffed. It has since implemented similar schedule reductions at a number of other newspapers in other parts of the country.