LOS ANGELES (AP) – A group of managers is buying the Village Voice and all its affiliated free weeklies, including Phoenix New Times but is leaving behind the online classified site Backpage.com, whose listings have drawn fire for promoting the illegal sex trade.
The buyout by managers is being led by Scott Tobias, the chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings LLC. Tobias will become the new organization’s chief executive.
He said he has lined up private financing to buy almost all of the Phoenix-based company’s assets, which include LA Weekly and SF Weekly , from owners Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.
Larkin and Lacey will keep ownership of Backpage.com. Terms were not disclosed.
Tobias said in an interview that controversy around Backpage.com “has been a distraction, there’s no doubt about it.”
“This is about two businesses moving forward,” he said.
The purchase is being made by Voice Media Group, a new holding company based in Denver. The deal includes all 13 weeklies and their websites, the national sales arm and events such as LA Weekly’s Detour and New York’s Siren music festivals.
Backpage.com has become the nation’s top forum for ads for “escorts,” “body rubs,” and other thinly veiled references to prostitution since Craigslist.org shut down its adult services section in September 2010.
In July, three Washington state teenagers who said they were sold online for sex sued Backpage’s owners for allegedly enabling their exploitation. At the time, Village Voice Media said the suit wouldn’t pass legal muster and is barred by federal law.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on Backpage.com in an open letter in March to “stop promoting and profiting from human trafficking” by shutting down its adult services section as Craigslist had done.
In a statement on the deal, Larkin and Lacey, the founders of Village Voice Media Holdings, said they were “ready to move on and hand the reins to a new generation of writers, editors and publishers.”
Backpage.com will “become the centerpiece of a new online classified advertising company with business worldwide,” the statement said.
The deal also involves Westword in Denver; New Times in Miami and Broward, Fla.; Houston Press; Observer in Dallas; Riverfront Times in St. Louis; City Pages in Minneapolis and OC Weekly in southern California.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof