Nation

The source explains that Avalon is losing money on the Blade, and the investors see buying the Press as a way to bail themselves out. Avalon's game plan, according to the source, involves moving the Blade into the Press offices, packaging the Window chain with the Press, and selling the package for up to $10 million.

That is, if they can make the Press profitable. For the last few years, profitability seemed to elude the Smith brothers, even though, like the Voice's owners, they have no inhibitions about selling sex ads. Sex ads accounted for about 27 percent of the Press's $5.8 million in revenues last year, according to the source. The paper lost about $500,000 in 2002, but the situation has been improving: by year end, losses were down to about $30,000 a month. By cutting Russ Smith's salary and expense account (no more Bermuda trips on the company dime), the new owners might even break even.

Smith did not return an e-mail for comment. Reached at the Press, Meadow said he'd call back, but did not.


cc@villagevoice.com

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