DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Lee Enterprises, owner of The Journal Times, announced plans Friday to buy three daily newspapers and 15 other publications in Wisconsin and Nebraska, operated by Independent Media Group Inc.

At the same time, Madison Newspapers, Inc., which is half owned by Lee, will buy IMG's remaining properties in Wisconsin — three dailies and eight other publications.

Together, the newspapers reach more than 42,000 households daily, and the other publications reach nearly 400,000 households weekly.

In Wisconsin, Lee will buy:

  • Chippewa Herald, Chippewa Falls, 7,100 daily newspaper, Sat.-Thurs., www.chippewa.com. The newspaper also publishes Your Family Shopper, a 30,900 weekly, and Chippewa Advertiser, an 11,500 weekly.
  • Tomah Journal/Monitor Herald, 5,200 twice-weekly newspaper, Mon./Thurs. The newspaper also produces Tri-County Advertiser, a 12,500 weekly shopper.
  • Dunn County News, Menomonie, 4,400 twice-weekly newspaper, Wed./Sun., www.dunnconnect.com. The newspaper also produces Dunn County Shopper, a 16,000 weekly, and Dunn County Reminder, Menomonie, 22,000 weekly shopper.
  • Coulee News, West Salem, 2,000 weekly newspaper, which also produces Economy Shopper publications, a 10,500 weekly for West Salem, and an 8,000 weekly for Sparta.

Madison Newspapers publishes the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times, in addition to several weeklies and specialty publications in central Wisconsin and its Internet site, www.madison.com. The Capital Times Co. owns the other half of Madison Newspapers.

The IMG properties in Wisconsin being purchased by Madison Newspapers are:

  • Portage Daily Register, 4,700 daily newspaper, Mon.-Sat., www.scwn.com. The newspaper also publishes Cent Saver, a 52,000 weekly shopper.
  • Shawano Leader, 6,140 daily newspaper, Sun.-Fri., www.shawanoleader.com. The newspaper also publishes Penny Saver, 17,900 a twice-weekly shopper.
  • Reedsburg Times Press/Report, 2,400 twice-weekly newspaper, Thurs./Sat.
  • Juneau County Star-Times, Mauston, 2,900 twice-weekly newspaper, Wed./Sat.
  • Wisconsin Dells Events, Wed./Sat., 1,800 twice-weekly newspaper.
  • Sauk Prairie Eagle, Sauk City, 2,000 weekly newspaper.
  • Shopper Stopper, Merrimac, 123,000 weekly shopper.
  • Wisconsin Reminder, Mauston, 18,500 weekly shopper.

Richard Gottlieb, chairman and chief executive officer of Lee, said the transactions are expected to be completed within 30 days.

the acquisitions follow Lee's central strategy for growth in publishing, online and information services.

"These publications will strengthen our positions in key markets," he said. "They are in close proximity to existing properties and will support our regional marketing strategies. For our customers, this will result in stronger newspapers and shoppers, delivering more news and information for readers and better results for advertisers. For our shareholders, this will result in improved operating efficiency."

In Nebraska, Lee will purchase:

  • Columbus Telegram, 11,500-circulation daily newspaper,

un.-Fri., www.columbustelegram.com. The newspaper also publishes Scout Shopper, which has a weekly circulation of 13,000.

  • Fremont Tribune, 9,200 daily newspaper, Mon.-Sat., www.fremontneb.com. The newspaper also publishes Tribune Marketplace, a 20,000 weekly shopper.
  • David City Banner Press, 3,700 weekly newspaper.
  • Schuyler Sun, 3,200 weekly newspaper.
  • Homefront Buyer's Guide, Fremont, 21,000 weekly specialty publication.

"Although these are relatively small publications individually, together they reach a great many readers," said Mary Junck, Lee president and chief operating officer. "They will help us expand our reach in wonderful markets and will help us make an even bigger difference for our readers, advertisers and online users."

In eastern Nebraska, Lee's publications include the Lincoln Journal Star and the Beatrice Daily Sun, the weekly Plattsmouth Journal, the bi-weekly agricultural publication Midwest Messenger in Tekamah, the weekly Burt County Plaindealer in Tekamah, and a variety of shoppers and specialty publications.

In Wisconsin, Lee's publications include the La Crosse Tribune and the nearby Winona Daily News in Minnesota. Lee also owns the weekly Foxxy Shoppers in La Crosse, Sparta, Tomah and Viroqua, and recently purchased the Westby Times and Viroqua Broadcaster, also in the La Crosse area.

IMG, www.imediag.com, is based in Adrian, Mich. Lee, www.lee.net, is headquartered in Davenport and has 6,200 employees in 21 states. It owns 21 daily newspapers and more than 80 weekly, classified, shopper or specialty publications.

Lee announced last month that it is planning to sell its nine network-affiliated and seven satellite television stations in order to continue expanding in publishing, online and information services. Its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LEE.

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