The Los Angeles Times disclosed Tuesday that it has received a $10 million loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which it said “will help cover payroll and other employee-related costs amid a dramatic plunge in advertising revenue.”
The paper said its finances were “already strained following an unprecedented rebuilding effort and hiring spree” that began in 2018 after billionaire biotech entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele, purchased The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for $500 million from Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. The pandemic caused “tens of millions of dollars in losses” for L.A. Times parent company California Times.
As a result, California Times had “applied for the maximum amount available to it,” the paper reported. California Times President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Argentieri said in a statement that the PPP loan “will be used almost exclusively for employee-related costs, including payroll and employee benefits.
The disclosure comes during a time of transition for the paper, which is still seeking to hire a new executive editor to replace Norman Pearlstine, who stepped down in December. It also follows a Wall Street Journal report last month that Soon-Shiong is exploring a sale of the Times.
Soon-Shiong, however, strongly denied the report, and a spokeswoman for the Times told TheWrap last month that he did not have plans to sell the paper. And earlier this month in a note to staff, he reaffirmed his family’s commitment to the “future” of the Times and the Union-Tribune.
“Despite disappointing media reports to the contrary, our commitment has not wavered: We are planning for the future of the California Times and look forward to gathering, safely, again in person,” Soon-Shiong wrote. “My family and I thank you for the dedication you’ve shown to keeping our communities informed and engaged during this historic year. The L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune have been sources of vital information, difficult truths and needed inspiration for the readers who rely on us every day.”