Local group to buy The Press Democrat, affiliated publications

The Press Democrat and two affiliated publications in Sonoma County are being sold by Florida-based Halifax Media Group to a local partnership that includes two Democratic power brokers.

The main buyers in the deal announced Thursday include Darius Anderson, a Sonoma-based developer and top Sacramento lobbyist, and Doug Bosco, a Santa Rosa attorney and former North Coast congressman who remains active in Democratic party politics.

Anderson, who has amassed valuable real estate holdings in Sonoma County, earlier this year led a different six-person partnership that bought the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper, which publishes twice a week.

The same holding company, Sonoma Media Investments LLC, is set to take over The Press Democrat, the weekly Petaluma Argus-Courier and North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa as well as websites for the three publications.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase could be completed as early as next week, said Steven Falk, one of the four main investors and chief executive of Sonoma Media Investments.

"We see a great opportunity in community journalism," said Falk, a former president and publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle and current chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "I think there is a good story here about returning these papers to local ownership."

The fourth principal buyer is Bill Hooper, president of Anderson's development firm, Kenwood Investments, and a former executive with Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard advertising company.

Hooper and Anderson are the two principal buyers in the Halifax deal that also were involved in the Index-Tribune purchase.

Falk said the new acquisition held appeal because of "the long-standing reputation of The Press Democrat and other papers in the group."

Halifax representatives, including chief executive Michael Redding, spoke to Press Democrat managers by phone Thursday morning but could not be reached for comment after the announcement.

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