Copley sells Borrego Sun to resident

By John Wilkens Union-Tribune Staff Writer

9:23 p.m. March 17, 2009

The Borrego Sun, for 60 years a fixture in the desert community, reportedly has been sold by The Copley Press Inc. to part-time resident Patrick Meehan, who runs a British entertainment firm.

The newspaper is reporting the sale in the edition due on newsstands Wednesday.

Meehan is chairman and majority owner of HandMade PLC, a holding company that includes HandMade Films, co-founded by George Harrison, the late Beatle, and Eloise Productions, which owns rights to the popular children's literature character.

“I love Borrego, and the paper is an extremely important part of the community,” Meehan told the Sun. “The paper is the voice of the people. I'm a great believer in that.”

Meehan bought a home in Borrego Springs about two years ago and is a part-time resident, according to the newspaper. He will be the fourth owner of the biweekly Sun when the transaction is completed March 31.

The newspaper has a circulation of about 2,600 and six full-time staff members. Judy Winter Meier, editor and general manager, declined to comment on the sale.

Kimberly Williamson, director of the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce, said she met Meehan and welcomed his acquisition of the newspaper. “People here have been anxious about its future, and it seems like a good thing that it's been sold,” she said.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The Copley Press, which also publishes The San Diego Union-Tribune, put the paper on the market in November. At that time, Jeffrey Potts, a newspaper broker with JP Media Partners, said he expected it to sell for less than $1 million.

The Copley Press has owned the Sun for 55 years. The company has been selling its holdings in recent years amid an industry-wide slump in revenues. The Union-Tribune is also for sale.

Meehan got his start in the music business in the late 1960s and was a manager for Elton John, Black Sabbath and other performers. He moved into film production and managed a music-rights catalog before setting up HandMade in 2006. Its film subsidiary, created in 1979, is known for quirky, distinctly British movies such as “Life of Brian,” “The Long Good Friday” and “Time Bandits.”

Meehan and Harold W. Fuson Jr., Copley's executive vice president, were unavailable for comment Tuesday. Fuson told the Sun, “Patrick Meehan is an ideal steward to keep the Sun at an enduring high level.”

John Wilkens: (619) 293-2236;