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Oahu Publications to buy 2 Hawaii Island daily papers

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 Oahu Publications Inc. announced today that it has agreed to acquire the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo) and West Hawaii Today (Kona) on Hawaii Island from Las Vegas-based Stephens Media LLC.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Dennis Francis, Oahu Publication’s president, said both newspapers will continue to be published daily and will be editorially independent from the company’s daily newspaper on Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The transaction will close Dec. 1.

"We are pleased to bring local management and ownership to these two quality newspapers," said Francis, who is also publisher of the Star-Advertiser, "and our first priority will be to ensure that the two newspapers continue to serve the needs of their communities."

"We purchased The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai last year under similar circumstances, and that turned out to be a good experience," Francis said. "It was good for the newspaper, good for employees and good for the residents of Kauai. We were able to bring back the Saturday edition, improve technology for the digital edition, and ensure the needs of the community would be served by a strong daily newspaper on Kauai for decades to come."

As for the Hawaii Island papers, "We’re publishers and we are always interested in taking a look at an opportunity," Francis said. "We are committed to ensuring that each island community retains a strong, local newspaper."

Francis said that the two newspapers’ editorial and advertising sales functions will continue under existing staff, and that the papers will continue to be printed at the West Hawaii Today printing facility in Kona.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has a circulation of 16,000 Monday-Friday and 18,000 on Sunday. West Hawaii Today’s circulation is 10,000 Monday-Friday and 12,000 on Sunday. Subscribers to the two papers will have free access to premium content at staradvertiser.com and washingtonpost.com.

As part of the deal, Oahu Publications is also buying Stephen’s interest in Hawaii.com.

"We want Hawaii Island residents and readers of both newspapers to know that Oahu Publications is committed to quality journalism and maintaining the excellent relationship that both papers have with their communities," Francis said.

In a related transaction, Sound Publishing, a subsidiary of Black Press, purchased the Aberdeen, Wash., Daily World and three weekly newspapers from Stephens in Washington state. That transaction closed today.

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