PUBLIC INFORMATION -- Mary Ann Milbourn, reporting for the Orange County Register, says the newspaper's parent corporation, Freedom Communications Inc., "is throwing up roadblocks in its
bankruptcy case by designating more than 1 million documents as
confidential, including a Dodgers baseball game schedule and poetry," according to the unsecured creditors committee in a court filing in Delaware Friday.
The gamesmanship has to stop if these Chapter 11 cases are to
proceed in an orderly fashion for the benefits of all constituents,
the creditors said in their motion, noting Freedom even designated
blank sheets of paper as confidential.
Freedom, which voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on September 1, did not have an immediate response to the creditors charge it is
impeding their work. The company was scheduled for a legally-mandated
meeting with the creditors today and was to be in court that
afternoon for a hearing on the confidentiality issue and several other
The disagreement stems from a request by the Irvine-based media
company that all members of the unsecured creditors committee sign
confidentiality agreements before having access to all of Freedoms
documents in the case.
Four committee members signed, but the Pension Benefit Guaranty
Corp. refused because it claims it is required by law to disclose
information if requested by Congress or other agencies.
The PBGC, which
oversees the countrys pensions, cited the Freedom of Information Act
among other things in claiming that it could not withhold information
The pension organization asked the court to grant it access to the
documents with a modified non-disclosure agreement that would still
permit it to perform its government duties.
Freedom argued in response that it was standard practice in a
bankruptcy to require the creditors committee members to sign a
The company contended that if PBGC can disclose information to
Congress or another agency, there is no guarantee of confidentiality.
Absent a PBGC confidentiality obligation to match that of the other
committee members, the debtors rightly fear that sensitive business
information may be disclosed to third parties within the government who
themselves are neither members of the committee nor even creditors in
these Chapter 11 cases, said Freedom.
The media company, which owns 33
dailies, 77 weeklies and other publications and eight television
stations, said in its September bankruptcy filing that it had $1.077
billion in debts, including $770.6 million owed to its lenders.