Times sells magazine to publisher with ties to Scientology

The Tampa Tribune/November 20, 2009

Tampa - The parent company of the St. Petersburg Times is selling off the last of the company's Washington-based publications.

The Times Publishing Company announced a deal selling "Governing" magazine to e.Republic, a Sacramento, Calif.-based media company that publishes "Government Technology" magazine and has ties to the Church of Scientology.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

This rounds out a series of deals by the Times to sell assets for cash, including Congressional Quarterly and CQ Press, which both focused on government operations. Proceeds for the sale will be put into the Times operations in Florida, officials said.

The sale was notable, in part, because The St. Petersburg Times has been publishing a series of articles about the Church of Scientology, chronicling claims by former Church members of abuses by the Church leadership.

Times spokesman Andy Corty acknowledged that e.Republic organization is closely tied to the Church of Scientology, but said the sale was purely a business transaction.

"We went through a full auction, with two dozen bidders on the initial list, then half a dozen final companies participating," Corty said. "We really never let religion enter the issue at all. We operated this separately from the newsroom."

The Times has also been running a series of online advertisements by the Church. Corty said those were part of a broader advertising purchase around Tampa Bay by the Church, and are also handled separately from newsroom operations.

Corty declined to disclose the financial scope of Governing, though he said it employed between 25 and 30 people.

In a statement, Paul Harney, Chief Operating officer for e.Republic said, "We are very pleased to welcome Governing to e.Republic. Our flagship Government Technology magazine has published alongside Governing for over 20 years, and we have a high regard for Governing's long history of editorial excellence."

Governing will remain in its current offices on Connecticut Avenue in downtown Washington, the companies said, with publisher Fred Kuhn, though some operations will be combined with similar functions at e.Republic.

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