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Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 1:27pm

Morris Goes to Court

Morris Publishing, the owner of 13 daily newspapers including The Augusta Chronicle, Savannah Morning News and Athens Banner-Herald, says it will file for bankruptcy.

The move comes as Morris struggles with millions of dollars in debt, ending two years of public interest and speculation on how the company would deal with it.

Morris had struggled to make interest payments on the $279 million owed to creditors, despite positive cash flows in 2008 and 2009, according to an article in The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, which the company also owns.

"With the big reverses in losses in advertising and losses of income, quite a few papers are still profitable or at least modestly profitable, but they're not generating enough earnings to make all their interest payments," says Rick Edmonds, a media industry analyst at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists.

Morris and its creditors expect to work out the terms as part of a "prepackaged" bankruptcy, in which both sides work out the terms of reorganization before heading to court. That means the bankruptcy likely won't be plagued by an expensive and contentious court case.

Sharp losses in advertising revenues have newspaper companies big and small struggling with loads of debt.