• From the publishers…
Wading through deep waters
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• Q & A regarding the change of name from 'Christian Times' to 'Christian Examiner'
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• The name has changed; here is what WILL NOT change
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Over the past three years, Lamar and Theresa Keener have sold their company, bought it back, and now have sold the "Christian Times" name. But they still own the newspaper assets and operations and, from now on, it will be called the Christian Examiner. Here in a Q&A format is an explanation of what is a rather complex story.
Q. Will the management of the newspaper change in any way?
A. No. The Keeners, who are once again 100% owners of Keener Communications Group (KCG), will be publishing the paper as they have for fifteen years.
Q. I heard somewhere that another company bought all the assets of the Christian Times. Is that true?
A. No. We did sell the trademark and trade name "Christian Times" but nothing else. We own the newspaper and all the related publishing assets. What you may have heard is an inaccurate report.
Q. Why did you sell the name?
A. In order to buy back our company from iExalt, to whom we sold it in 2000, we had to come up with a large sum of money. After one private lending source fell through, Kingdom Ventures, Inc. (KDMV) volunteered to fund a loan on our behalf, with several conditions which included immediately granting them an exclusive national license to launch new editions under the Christian Times name and trademark in other regions, and also granting them an option to purchase the trade name and trademark outright from us some time later.
Q. Why did you agree to those terms?
A. We explored numerous options before determining this was the only viable way to get the company back from iExalt and save it from going through a possible
Q. If you sold the paper to iExalt three years ago, why did you not use your proceeds from that to buy it back?
A. The July 1, 2000 transaction was a stock-for-stock deal, with no cash changing hands. Unfortunately, as with many other emerging companies whose stock plummeted, we were never able to sell our stock before it became of no value.
Q. So what you're saying is that you got nothing for selling to iExalt, but you had to pay money to get it back?
A. Yes, that's correct. But the way it has worked out, the price of getting it back turns out pretty much to be "giving up the name"—and the hefty legal fees of negotiating and transacting deals with two publicly-traded companies (iExalt and Kingdom Ventures). Unfortunately, we also had to forgive a substantial amount of unpaid salaries and assume the debt that had accumulated from an aborted expansion effort.
Q. Why did you sell the business to iExalt in the first place?
A. iExalt pursued us in late 1999 because of our strong national reputation for running the most successful and largest Christian newspaper operation in the U.S. It seemed to fit very well into their overall business plan for establishing a publicly-traded Christian products and media company. We were at a point that we needed major capitalization to fund our business plan for a nationwide chain of Christian papers, and they assured us they had the resources to make that happen. It appeared at the time to be the right decision for both companies.
Q. What happened with the Christian Times after iExalt acquired the newspaper?
A. We began to expand aggressively through acquisitions and new launches and within 15 months had nearly doubled our distribution to 330,000 copies, from seven regions in California to 13 regions in five states. We moved out of our in-home office and hired additional staff, putting our operation in high gear to become a regionally-focused national chain of Christian newspapers. But iExalt's intent to fund our expansion never materialized and, by December 2001, we had to cut our unprofitable regions and lay off half our staff.
Q. Why didn't iExalt fund the Christian Times as anticipated?
A. Right after we came to terms in early 2000, iExalt's stock tumbled along with the rest of the Stock Market. Then the 9-11 attack added to the challenges of a slowed-down economy. The two-year-old company simply ran out of money and could not raise it as they had expected and needed to cover the high overhead costs of operating a public company coupled with their aggressive acquisition strategy of a number of small, marginally-profitable businesses like ours.
Q. What happened to iExalt?
A. The corporate headquarters in Houston was shut down in the fall of 2002 and all other subsidiaries were sold off. Only Keener Communications Group remained, but the filing of an Involuntary Bankruptcy petition against iExalt on Nov. 1, 2002 caused a potential buyer of KCG and the Christian Times to back out. For the past year we have continued to operate the newspaper autonomously, while technically still owned by iExalt. During this time we have attempted to negotiate a number of options with iExalt, finally agreeing, in late Spring, to terms that, in our view, were not very favorable to us.
Q. What is the current status of iExalt?
A. It is basically a shell corporation with no operations. Public trading was discontinued more than a year ago. They have sold off all their assets including the iExalt.com URL. As of presstime, the bankruptcy case is being handled by the Houston court, according to iExalt Chief Executive Officer Don Sapaugh.
Q. What newspapers will now be called the Christian Examiner?
A. There are six regional newspapers that currently comprise the Keener Communications Group newspaper operations and, up until now, were called the Christian Times. These six will carry the new Christian Examiner name.
Sou. California Christian Examiner
1. San Diego County
2. Orange County
3. Inland Empire
4. Los Angeles County
Northwest Christian Examiner
Rocky Mountain Christian Examiner
6. Denver/Colorado Springs
Q. Are you still the largest Christian newspaper in the U.S.?
A. Yes, to our knowledge as of Nov. 1, 2003. Our six regions comprise a combined distribution of 180,000 copies each month. We have held the top spot since 1990.
Q. Will there still be a newspaper called Christian Times somewhere?
A. Yes. Kingdom Ventures will be publishing their own newspapers under that name in various regional areas of the U.S. They started using the Christian Times name in June 2003 as part of the national licensing agreement they purchased from us. Now that they have exercised their option to purchase the name outright, as of September 23, 2003, they own the name, and that is why we are changing our name to Christian Examiner.
Q. Will the two papers be the same?
A. No. Since we are two unique and distinct publishing operations with different visions, the papers are undoubtedly be different. Our Christian Examiner will, with the exception of a new name and minor design adjustments, look and read just like it has for the past 15 years under the Christian Times trademark. On the other hand, the new Christian Times publications will take on the personality, philosophy and direction of its new owner.
Q. What about the Web site with the christiantimes.com URL ?
A. Since we only sold the trade name and no other assets, we still own the christiantimes.com URL. We have also secured the christianexaminer.com URL. Web surfers will be able to easily find our Web site using either address.
Published, November 2003