It would certainly be interesting if he is. Stephanie Riegel at the Baton Rouge Business Report has the story…
Daily Report has learned that New Orleans businessman John Georges is the potential buyer in talks with the Manship family to acquire The Advocate. Sources familiar with the negotiations tell Daily Report that Georges has been in talks with the Manships since last fall, when the Baton Rouge daily began publishing a New Orleans edition. The Advocate reported on its web site last night that it is in talks with a “private individual” interested in acquiring the 98,000-circulation daily, adding no specific offer has been made.
Georges will neither confirm nor deny he is the interested buyer, but he leaves open the possibility. “I don’t comment on rumors. If I have something to say I will do a release,” he says. “Right now my focus is Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge. It’s an amazing success. Having said that, my eyes are wide open all the time.” Georges—whose business ventures include grocery distribution, offshore marine services, video and arcade entertainment and investments—ran for governor in 2007. More recently, he acquired the iconic Galatoire’s restaurant in the New Orleans French Quarter, and earlier this month opened Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge in the Acadian Village Shopping Center.
Georges might be attempting to make himself a Louisiana version of Donald Trump, who is engaged in an exploratory – and probably ill-fated – effort into purchasing the New York Times.
What’s interesting, if of questionable relevance to the sale of the Advocate, is that the Manship family is engaged in threatening the owner of BatonRougeToday.com, a local news blog, with a copyright infringement action.
It seems that the copyright for “Baton Rouge Today” was formerly held by former Baton Rouge state legislator and 1998 U.S. Senate candidate Woody Jenkins; “Baton Rouge Today” was the name of a TV show which appeared on WBTR-TV, a station Jenkins owned until he sold it to Veritas Communications in 2004, who then sold it to the Manships two years later. But by 2006, the web domain for BatonRougeToday.com had been idle for three years. And though the show was still on the air as late as last year, Dave Roppolo launched the website BatonRougeToday.com in 2006.
The Manships are now threatening Roppolo with a lawsuit if he doesn’t hand his site over to them, and they’re accusing him of “cybersquatting” – an action in which internet-savvy types will grab a web domain corresponding to activities of a much larger operation and turn a profit when the larger operation is forced to buy it from them. Roppolo says he’s never attempted to turn a profit on the site, publicizes a great deal of non-profit and charity information at the site and has never tried to sell it to anyone.
Considering that the Manships are not contemplating selling WBRZ-TV or any of the other television properties they own, it might be worth speculating that they see Baton Rouge Today as the potential home of the web presence for the TV stations. After all, at one point the Advocate and WBRZ shared a website at 2theadvocate.com. Maybe they want to do that again, with a local blogger standing in the way and being set upon by their lawyers.
But for Georges, the Advocate’s move into New Orleans after the Times-Picayune switched to just three print publishing days a week would make him the locally-based owner of the only daily newspaper servicing southeast Louisiana. Most people think print is dead, but Georges might be looking at the Advocate as a vanity publication rather than a moneymaker.
What effect that would have on the media business in Louisiana – or the content which appears in the Advocate – is anybody’s guess.