The Name Game

Media Watch 

The Name Game

Is Tucson ready for another Examiner? And another free publication in the mailbox every week?

It appears that San Francisco Examiner owner Philip Anschutz--the Denver-based oil-entertainment-sports mogul--may think we are. The Denver billionaire's Clarity Media Group recently applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the "Examiner" name in Tucson, Phoenix and 67 other major U.S. cities.

The applications all include both a trade name ("The Examiner. Tucson," for example) and a newspaper nameplate with "The Examiner" emblazoned on an eagle (a little like Hearst's old eagle logo) and the city name as a subscript.

Anschutz, a conservative Christian who bought the Examiner last February for $20 million, recently acquired three suburban free-distribution weekly newspapers around Washington, D.C. The Washington Post, quoting advertisers, said Clarity Media apparently plans to distribute a free paper in sidewalk boxes and by mail to selected ZIP codes in the Washington, D.C., area beginning Feb. 1.

"We haven't confirmed that story, but we haven't denied it, either," said Clarity Media spokesman Jim Monaghan in a telephone interview from the company's Denver offices. He added that the move to protect the name in 69 cities shouldn't be considered a business plan.

Monaghan said company officials believe the name's franchise value is growing, and the move to trademark it across the country "preserves our flexibility should a business opportunity surface in another market."

Monaghan was unaware that the "Examiner" name has been used here previously, in the form of Ed Finkelstein's sporadically published Tucson Examiner tabloid, which has not appeared in several years. The tabloid was known for its assaults on U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., and former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini.

Anschutz, whose estimated personal net worth of $5.2 billion puts him 33rd on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans, pumps plenty of "soft money" into Republican committees and directly backs some GOP candidates.

The Qwest Communications founder's fortune is built on family oil holdings, railroad stock, movie theaters (none in Tucson), professional sports teams and a couple of family-values-oriented movie-production companies.

He's also the money behind the Foundation for a Better Life and the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. The FBL sponsors the "Pass It On" campaign billboards that feature Kermit the Frog, Mother Teresa and others as examples of hard work, determination, unity and other positive human values. The campaign also produces public service announcements and movie trailers.

And he was a $10,000 contributor in 1992 to Colorado for Family Values, which pushed a ballot measure to prevent Colorado cities and towns from adopting civil rights protections for gays and lesbians. However, he's apparently given no orders to steer the San Francisco paper's coverage of gay and lesbian issues.

Could he be a man with an agenda?

If he has, we've been here before, but in a smaller way, via Ev Mecham's free weekly "American" newspapers of the mid-1960s. Mecham started papers in Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff and Yuma after his failed 1962 bid for the U.S. Senate. He tried in about 1967 to flip the papers from free weekly to paid daily papers, but the move didn't get too far.


FREE SPEECH?

The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a class-action suit filed against the Tucson Citizen over a letter to the editor published more than a year ago. The letter writer, a retired Tucson surgeon, suggested that to stop the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Americans should go to the nearest mosque and kill five Muslims.

It's a case that has editorial-page editors holding their collective breath, because the issue is whether the letter amounts to impassioned political debate or an "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

The Citizen's position is that while the letter is inflammatory, it's constitutionally protected, because there was no immediate threat to anyone. Editor-Publisher Michael W. Chihak has apologized for using the letter and noted in a column that it "instilled fear in a group of innocent people and the community at large, and carried the potential to incite violence."

No date has been set for oral arguments.


MEA MAXIMA CULPA

In looking at the reasons why Michael E. Pulitzer has been whittling away at his chunk of the family's voting trust, I missed a key distinction that keeps the company solidly under the trust's control. Shares held within the trust are voted at a rate of 10 votes per share. When they're sold out of the trust as common stock, it's only one vote per share, which means the trustees will call the tune.

Since we last looked in on MEP's moves to market, he's sold another 6,000 shares, clearing nearly $292,000. As of Jan. 3, he had direct control over 6,000 shares and another 1.45 million in the trust.

It's interesting to note also that institutional investors have bulked up their positions in PTZ (the ticker symbol) by about 290,000 shares.

The biggest institutional player has been mutual fund family boss Mario Gabelli, who likes the fund as a small cap value company. His funds and GAMCO Investors hold about 4 million shares of PTZ--far and away the largest non-insider position.


JOLT'S NEW GM

Jerry Misner, a 30-year radio veteran, is the new general manager at KJLL (1330 AM).

Misner's been in Tucson for more than 18 years. He was previously with Lotus Communications in sales for KLPX and sales manager for KTKT Newsradio. He's also a former GM at KRQ and KNST under Nationwide Communications' ownership, and held sales positions with KWFM, KCEE and KNST.

Misner previously worked in Omaha as a talk show host, program director and general manager before starting an advertising agency.


DIVIDENDS

Emmis Communications, owner of Tucson's ABC affiliate, KGUN (Channel 9), posted sharply higher third quarter earnings, thanks to higher television station operating income and lowered interest expenses.

After preferred dividends, earnings for the quarter ending Nov. 30 were $17.6 million (31 cents per share), compared with $9.1 million (16 cents per share) a year ago.

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