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Bliss Communications, the publisher of The Janesville Gazette and several other daily newspapers, has acquired Community Shoppers, Inc. and its family of free distribution publications, according to John Cribb of Cribb, Greene & Associates who represented the seller in the transaction.

CSI publishes Walworth County Shopper Advertiser, Walworth County Sunday, Stateline News of Beloit and the Janesville Messenger. They will become part of Walworth County Publishing, a Bliss division that currently publishes The Week, Thursday Week and a variety of specialty publications.

Terms of the deal with CSI owners Steve and Cindy Karstaedt were not disclosed, but Sidney H. “Skip” Bliss said the acquisition is the largest in his company’s history.

“These community newspapers and shoppers have served a large number of readers and advertisers throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois for many years, providing them with great information and proven results,” said Bliss, president of Bliss Communications. “We are proud to welcome them into our fine family of publications.”

Bliss said publication of the Sunday Week will end in August, and its content will be consolidated into Walworth County Sunday.

CSI employs more than 100 people, a majority of whom will join the Bliss operation. Dan Pyfer, CSI’s former general manager, has been named vice president and general manager of the renamed company, CSI Media.

As part of the consolidation, Bliss said some positions in his current Walworth County operation will be eliminated.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of another significant Bliss investment. In October, the company opened a $22 million printing and distribution center on Janesville’s east side.

The deal includes CSI’s printing and inserting facility in Delavan, which Bliss said has capabilities that are different from those of his company’s new facility. The Delavan plant will give Bliss more options in securing commercial printing business, he said.

“It is without a doubt a big undertaking,” Bliss said of the acquisition. “Business and investment icon Warren Buffet was once asked, ‘When is the best time to buy a good company?’ His response—‘When it’s for sale.’”

In addition to The Janesville Gazette, Bliss operates radio stations WCLO and WJVL in Janesville. It publishes daily newspapers in Monroe, Marinette and Ironwood, Mich., as well as the Freeport Shopping News in Freeport, Ill.

The company, which this year will mark 125 years of Bliss family ownership, also operates AM and FM radio stations in West Bend and Racine.

Cribb, Greene & Associates is an eighty-five year old newspaper brokerage company with offices in Montana, Virginia, and Missouri.

Published June 17, 2008

Delavan, WI