Rocky Mountain News anniversary: Brian Ferguson still wants to buy the paper's intellectual property

When web surfers visit the Rocky Mountain News website, the first line they see at the top of the screen reads, "Denver newspaper, with the latest Colorado news, sports, weather and entertainment."

Not quite. The site is frozen at February 27, 2009, the day its last edition was published -- making tomorrow the one-year anniversary of its last hurrah. In the weeks following the closure, Texas investor Brian Ferguson, who explored purchasing the paper, announced that he was interested in buying the Rocky's intellectual property -- its name, its web address, etc. Moreover, Rich Boehne, CEO of E.W. Scripps, the Rocky's owner, said during a press conference announcing the tabloid's shuttering that these items were for sale.

Today, Ferguson confirms that he would still like to buy this material.

"We absolutely remain interested in the Rocky name and intellectual property," Ferguson confirms. "A lot of people probably think we're crazy to say that. But people thought we were crazy when we invested in A.H. Belo about this time last year, and if you look at the performance of that investment over time, I think the market is bearing out that it was a good decision.

"There's some potential for some future value in the Rocky," he continues. "Reasonable people can disagree on that, but we think it's there. I may be an idiot for saying any of this; I should say, 'No, it's worthless.' But I think there's value there for somebody who's going to put the capital behind it to do something with it -- which we're prepared to do."

What's Scripps got to say about that? Nothing so far. Several hours ago, Scripps spokesman Tim King said he would try to get an answer to questions about the Rocky's intellectual property, but he has been unable to do so thus far. Once Scripps responds, this blog will be updated.

The closure of the Rocky ended a joint-operating agreement between that paper and the Denver Post -- a union blessed by the U.S. Department of Justice, whose goal was to encourage as many different media voices as possible. Presumably, the folks at Justice still feel this way.

As for Ferguson, he declines to talk about any conversations he may have had with Scripps about the Rocky. "Scripps has been very, very good to me," he notes. "I'm not going to do anything that's going to piss me off." But he does acknowledge the "conventional wisdom" that the value of the Rocky name declines as time goes on.

"I don't know if it does or doesn't for what we have in mind," he says. "But there's some pretty easy-to-follow logic to that."

Meanwhile, the Rocky website lingers, with no end in sight.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts