Univision deletes Gawker Media posts subject to lawsuits

September 10, 2016 5:46 PM EDT

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By David Bailey

(Reuters) - Univision Communications Inc said on Saturday it has deleted postings subject to active litigation against Gawker Media Group Inc to create a "clean slate" for the online publishing company acquired for $135 million in a bankruptcy auction last month.

Gawker Media sought bankruptcy in June after facing a $140 million court judgment following an invasion of privacy lawsuit from former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, over the publication of excerpts from a sex tape.

"Following our acquisition of assets ​from Gawker Media, we have decided to take down select articles that are the subject of pending litigation against the prior owners," Univision said in a statement.

"At this time of transition, the decision was based on a desire to have a clean slate as we look to support and grow the editorial missions of the acquired brands," it said.

A bankruptcy judge approved Univision's winning bid in August following a bankruptcy auction and Gawker Media said its website Gawker.com known for celebrity and media gossip would shut down and its media assets would be integrated into Fusion Media Group.

Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker was bankrolled by billionaire investor Peter Thiel. Gawker.com in 2007 published an article about Thiel's homosexuality.

Removal of the postings required a vote of the interim general counsel, interim CEO, and the executive editor in line with Gawker's collective bargaining agreement.

Gawker Media Executive Editor John Cook said in a memo to staffers, seen by Reuters, that the executives had voted on Friday to delete the six postings from Gawker Media sites: three from Deadspin, two from tech blog Gizmodo and one from women's website Jezebel.

Cook's memo said he had voted to retain the postings and removing them was a mistake.

"While I believe that Univision is a company that values and defends aggressive, independent reporting, the decision to remove these posts is, in my view, at odds with its tradition of confronting bullies with honesty," Cook said in the memo.

The postings deleted involved a man who sued Gawker over its reporting on his claims to have invented email, former major league pitcher Mitch Williams, a conservative blogger, and a man acquitted of sexual assault.

On Saturday, links to the six postings said, "This story is no longer available as it is the subject of pending litigation against the prior owners of this site."

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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