(Jamaica Observer) – The weekly Sunday Herald newspaper has been taken over by a group of investors headed by the Rev Garnett Roper, who hope to salvage the latest journal headed for Jamaica’s fearsome newspaper graveyard.
Christene King and Desmond Richards, the principals behind New Media Communications which has published the Sunday Herald for the past 11 years, were immediately employed in their previous positions as executive editor and managing editor respectively.
The buyout followed a protracted dispute with the tax authorities over an estimated $145.8 million in taxes and statutory deductions, in which the newspaper unsuccessfully appealed to the Finance Ministry for a partial write off.
“We want the Herald to remain a strong independent third paper committed to its vigorous brand of journalism which no other paper is offering,” said Roper, the controversial preacher and talkshow host who chairs New Generation Publishers, the new owners.
Roper declined to name the new investors, saying he would leave it up to them to identify themselves. But reliable Observer sources gave their names as Peter Bunting, Chris Dehring, Mark Golding and Roper.
Apparently unaware of the sale, the Inland Revenue Department sent in a bailiff to the Herald’s Norwood Avenue Kingston offices last Friday, only to be shown proof that equipment and furniture there had been sold to New Generation Publishers. The sale also appeared to take original directors, Cliff Hughes and Franklyn McKnight by surprise.
“I want to make it clear that I did not know who the new investors were until last Friday when the bailiff went in,” said Hughes, the CEO of Nationwide Radio.
“When I turned over my shares to the company (New Media Communications) last year, the names of the pending investors were not given to us. I was dealing with Desmond Richards and Christene King,” he insisted.
McKnight who now runs the news department of Ocho Rios-based IRIE-FM, said he too did not know the names of the proposed investors when he turned over his shares to New Media.