A timeline of Freedom Communications and The Orange County Register

1905: Santa Ana businessmen, including publisher S. Frank van Ormer, launch the Santa Ana Register. The paper is based in downtown Santa Ana at Fourth and French streets.

1906: Banker J.P. Baumgartner buys the paper. Terry Stephenson, editor until 1927, was a founder of the Orange County Historical Society.

1912: The Register moves to Third and Sycamore streets, and changes its name to the Santa Ana Daily Evening Register.

1918: The Register acquires its biggest local competitor, the Santa Ana Evening Blade, which had been printing since before Orange County’s birth in 1889.

1927: Former Ohio newsman J. Frank Burke purchases the newspaper’s parent company, Register Publishing Co., installs new presses and modernizes the paper.

1931: The Anaheim Register is launched, but folds amid the Great Depression.

1933: Businessman Ernest Spencer buys the Register.

1935: Ohio-native Raymond Cyrus Hoiles buys the Register. His son, Clarence, takes over business operations and the elder Hoiles takes control of editorial content. Hoiles also buys the Clovis (N.M.) News Journal, the first of several paper acquisitions.

1937: Hoiles launches his famously libertarian six-day-a-week column, which is eventually named “Common Ground.”

1939: The Register moves to Sycamore and Sixth streets in downtown Santa Ana, and changes its name to the Santa Ana Register, dropping “Daily” from the flag.

1946: Hoiles buys the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph.

1950: Hoiles launches Freedom Newspapers in Santa Ana with the Register as its flagship.

1952: The Santa Ana Register becomes just “The Register.”

1957: The Register moves out of downtown Santa Ana to 625 N. Grand Ave.

1965: Circulation tops 100,000. Freedom buys community dailies and weeklies in Orange, Brea, Anaheim and La Habra.

1970: Hoiles dies at 91. Family ownership is split among his three children, Clarence, Harry and Mary Jane. Clarence becomes CEO and serves until his death in 1981.

1979: R. David Threshie, who married into the Hoiles family, becomes publisher.

1981: D.R. Segal becomes CEO, the first non-family member to be chief executive.

1985: The Register staff wins its first Pulitzer Prize for photography of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The same year, the newspaper is renamed The Orange County Register.

1986: The Register moves next door to a new five-story headquarters on Grand Avenue, next to the paper’s old production facility. Circulation tops 300,000.

1989: Register reporter Edward Humes wins the Pulitzer Prize for Specialized Reporting, based on his coverage of the military. It’s the paper’s second Pulitzer.

1990: Freedom starts a regional 24-hour cable TV news service, Orange County Newschannel, operated out of the Register building. (Sold in 1996, OCN closed in 2002.)

1992: James Rosse, Stanford University’s provost, is named CEO. At this point, Freedom owns 27 daily newspapers, 16 weeklies and five television stations.

1994: Freedom Newspapers becomes Freedom Communications.

1996: The Register staff wins its third Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting on the UC Irvine fertility clinic scandal.

2002: Timothy Hoiles, R.C.’s grandson, forces the board to consider selling Freedom.

2004: Freedom partners with two Wall Street firms, Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners, to raise $1 billion to buy out dissident Hoiles family shareholders, but the family retains control of the company.

2006: Scott Flanders is named Freedom CEO. He leaves three years later, becoming CEO of Playboy Enterprises.

2006: Freedom launches the OC Post, a daily tabloid with condensed news reports. It folds 18 months later.

2007: Terry Horne is named president and publisher.

2009: Freedom files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the financial burdens of the recession and debt tied to the 2004 recapitalization. Burl Osborne is named interim CEO.

2010: Freedom emerges from bankruptcy. Family ownership is out and several Wall Street investment firms – Alden Global Capital, Angelo Gordon & Co., Luxor Capital Group and lenders led by JPMorgan Chase – take control.

2011: Freedom sells its TV stations to pay off post-bankruptcy debts.

April 2012: Editor Ken Brusic is named interim publisher.

July 2012: Boston businessmen Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz and their 2100 Trust group buy Freedom Communications for $50 million. After years of staff reductions, the new owners go on a hiring spree; the newsroom staff alone balloons from roughly 185 to more than 400. With a focus on print, rather than digital, the pair launch new sections, magazines and expanded community editions.

December 2012: As Freedom moves to sell off its smaller daily newspapers, the company acquires Churm Media, which includes three local magazines.

November 2013: Kushner and Spitz buy The Press-Enterprise, a daily paper in Riverside, for $27.25 million.

August 2013: Freedom launches the Long Beach Register, a daily newspaper.

April 2014: The Los Angeles Register is launched in April, but folds in September. The Long Beach Register folds in December.

September 2014: Real estate developer Michael Harrah buys the Orange County Register’s Santa Ana headquarters for $27 million.

October 2014: Rich Mirman, a Freedom investor and former casino executive, replaces Kushner as publisher. The Los Angeles Times sues the Register, claiming the newspaper breached a delivery contract with the Times to switch to new carriers. The rapid switch disrupts delivery of the Register for months.

March 2015: Kushner resigns; Mirman takes over as CEO. Spitz, once Freedom president, becomes chairman.

November 2015: Freedom files for bankruptcy protection, the second trip to bankruptcy court in six years.

February 2016: A three-way battle for the Register emerges among an investor group led by Mirman, Tribune Publishing and Digital First Media.

March 2016: Bankruptcy auction begins March 16 for ownership of The Register and Press-Enterprise.

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