SCMG buys Highlands Today


Sun Coast Media Group continues to expand throughout central Florida as it becomes the new owner of the daily newspaper in Highlands County. It completed a deal Friday to purchase Highlands Today from the Tampa Bay Times.

Once the transition is complete, Highlands Today will merge forces with the Highlands News-Sun, which was purchased by Sun Coast Media Group in 2014.

This deal will unite two newspapers that have worked side by side in a friendly competitive environment for 20 years. More importantly, the deal is part of the Dunn-Rankin family's mission to serve truly local communities through its newspapers.

"I am very excited to welcome the Highlands Today employees, subscribers and advertisers to the Sun Newspapers family. All of us at the Highlands News-Sun are looking forward to serving the communities of Highlands County with the most compelling and comprehensive daily newspaper that covers local, state, national and world news," said Glen Nickerson, Highlands News-Sun president.

The two newspapers will continue to operate side by side for the current time. This time, however, working together as one team.

Sun Coast Media Group was started by Derek Dunn-Rankin in 1977 with a single newspaper, the Venice Gondolier. It is a company owned and operated by a fourth-generation Florida family. The main office and printing plant are in Port Charlotte.

The company first expanded into Highlands County when it purchased the former Lake Placid Journal in 2007 from the Delaney family, then the News-Sun, the county's hometown newspaper since 1927, in 2014 from Halifax Media Group. The Highlands News-Sun also publishes the highly popular Highlands Sun, the county's only local entertainment publication.

"We are excited to welcome Highlands Today to our small family-owned community newspaper group.  Highlands is the kind of Florida community we love – great values and traditions mixed with pride.  We've long wanted to have the Highlands Today to join our Highlands News-Sun and Lake Placid papers already in Highlands," said David Dunn-Rankin, president of Sun Coast Media Group.

With the purchase of Highlands Today, Sun Coast Media Group now owns 10 award-winning newspapers in Highlands, and the surrounding counties of Charlotte, DeSoto, Polk and Sarasota. It also owns two editions of the Smart Shopper and Harbor Style magazine.

Tampa Bay Times bought The Tampa Tribune, which included Highlands Today, in May. The companies did not disclose the purchase price in Friday's deal.

"We greatly admire the Highlands Today staff, and we respect the folks at Sun Coast Media Group," said Paul Tash, chairman and chief executive of the Times. "Together, they will continue providing excellent service to newspaper readers and advertisers in Highlands County."


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