November 29, 2021

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. is taking control of the pension plan of the Tampa Bay Times, which is underfunded to the tune of $100 million.

The corporation, as the name implies, guarantees full pension payments to retirees at participating organizations. Though a federal program, it is not funded by taxpayers but instead by premiums the plans pay in.

The Times announced the action Monday afternoon. 3,300 retirees are covered by the plan.

It is not uncommon for the pension plans of newspapers (or other industries) to be underfunded. When there is little prospect that conditions will improve to allow payment of that deficit, the PBGC can choose to take over.

The Times has been staying current on year-to-year payments and will negotiate continuing payments with the insurer after the takeover is completed. The corporation also holds liens on properties of the Times and its nonprofit parent, Poynter. Terms of those liens will also be negotiated, the company said.

When McClatchy was sold to hedge fund Chatham Asset Management in a bankruptcy auction in 2020, the PBGC took over its $1.4 billion pension plan.

A longer account of the action is available in a Tampa Bay Times story here.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
Rick Edmonds

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