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Orange County Register to Cut Jobs

October 16, 2002

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ The Orange County Register is eliminating 35 jobs and will freeze wages next year under pressure to improve profits at the family owned company.

The cuts will be made across all departments, including the newsroom, a Register spokeswoman said Tuesday. The moves were announced to the newspaper’s staff Monday, spokeswoman Nancy Souza said.

The Register needs to increase its profit margin faster than planned, said Alan Bell, chief executive of Freedom Communications Inc. The company owns the Register, 27 other daily and 37 weekly newspapers, and television stations.

The move comes less than two months after Freedom ousted former chief executive Samuel Wolgemuth in a dispute over the company’s financial performance. Freedom Communications is owned by about 50 descendants of company founder R.C. Hoiles.

``I made no secret when I came in that the Register needs to be more efficient,″ Bell said Tuesday. ``I am more ambitious about our performance than my predecessor.″

Last year, Freedom lost $94 million before taxes and $64 million after taxes from one-time losses on discontinued magazine and Internet investments. The company said it had a pretax profit of $23 million in the first six months of this year compared with a loss of $55 million in the same period last year.

The cuts will be made over the next several weeks. In the newsroom, about 15 positions will be eliminated. Because some positions are already open, that will result in about seven or eight people losing their jobs, Souza said.

The wage freeze will apply to employees earning more than $25,000 per year.

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On the Net:

Orange County Register: http://www.ocregister.com

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