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GOOD ALBEIT IRONIC NEWS

Here’s some good albeit ironic news: Editor & Publisher notes that at United Media Syndicate, which  distributes opinion columns and games as well as comic strips, profits jumped 36% in the fourth quarter last year, the same quarter that Scripps, United Media’s parent, offered the Rocky Mountain News for sale, closing it in February 2009 because it couldn’t afford to continue losing money in the newspaper division. United Media’s revenue for the last 2008 quarter increased 20% to $30.9 million, compared with $25.7 million in the year-ago period, Scripps said.“Scripps attributed the United Media profit increase to the decision by the ABC television network to air 13 ‘Peanuts’ specials in the quarter. United Media syndicates Peanuts, Dilbert, Marmaduke and about 150 other comics and features.” You’d think — wouldn’t you? — that an advantage to being part of a huge communications enterprise is that the profitable elements in the operation would support the unprofitable parts, seeing them through such hard times as ours. Not at Scripps.

Scripps, which owns 16 newspapers around the country and 10 TV stations, told its legions of employees that they can expect pay cuts soon and a suspension of retirement benefits, reported David Milstead of the Rocky Mountain News, the only Scripps property to escape the cuts (because it died soon after Milstead’s article was published). Senior managers and corporate executives already took pay cuts of 5-15 percent in January. That’s a switch: in these belt-tightening times, the higher the rank, the less probable a belt.

And one more happy economic note: according to the Denver Post’s account, Action Comics No. 1 recently sold for $317,200 in an online auction. The previous owner, who bought it when he was 9 in
1950, paid 35 cents for it. Only 100 copies of this old funnybook are said to exist.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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