Sun-Times renews printing, distribution deal with Tribune

Chicago Sun-Times, December 11, 2019

The Chicago Sun-Times signed a new lease on life this week by extending its printing and distribution agreement with the parent company of the Chicago Tribune.

Under the deal the Sun-Times will continue to be printed at the Tribune’s Freedom Center production plant and Tribune vehicles will continue to deliver the paper.

Similar agreements have been in place since 2007, with the current arrangement set to expire at the end of this year. At its peak the deal was costing the Sun-Times $70 million a year. When the Sun-Times fell behind on payments, Tribune Publishing negotiated the contract down to $25 million a year — still considered onerous for the struggling tabloid, which has not been profitable in this decade.

Terms of the latest multiyear extension were not disclosed, but they’re believed to be more favorable to the Sun-Times, according to published reports.

The move follows a reorganization of Sun-Times ownership earlier this year with Chicago investors Michael Sacks and Rocky Wirtz providing an influx of capital and taking control of the company from a consortium of labor unions.

Sacks and Wirtz previously were among investors in Wrapports Holdings LLC, which sold the Sun-Times to the current ownership group in 2017.

Nykia Wright

“We’ve succeeded in restructuring and extending our agreement with Tribune Publishing to print and deliver the Sun-Times,” Nykia Wright, interim CEO of Sun-Times Media, told employees in an email.

“While we still have much work to do, the new contract represents a positive step forward in improving the financial health of our business. As part of this, there will be some adjustments to our deadlines and production process that we hope will grow our readership and keep us serving our city and region for years to come.

“Overall, this agreement is a key step toward moving the Sun-Times even further forward in 2020.”

Wright declined to comment further. Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco did not respond to a request for comment.

A Tribune Publishing spokesman also confirmed the deal but declined to comment.

The agreement was first reported by David Roeder in the Sun-Times.

Tuesday’s comments of the day: Marty Jacobs: Siafa Lewis is a welcome addition to Channel 5, and is one of the best sports anchors in the city. Also, kudos to Channel 5 news management for encouraging their talent to expand their abilities.

Chad Rubel: Chicago has a fine tradition of people going from the sports box into news. There haven’t been too many going the other way. I remember John “Bulldog” Drummond filling in on the sports desk at Channel 2 with his colorful sports jackets during the holiday newscasts.

Chicago Tribune Freedom Center