News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is considering purchasing the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune as their parent company, Tribune Co., is expected to emerge from bankruptcy soon, reports Meg James in the Los Angeles Times.
"News Corp. executives have had preliminary talks with these [Tribune Co.’s] debt holders about acquiring the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, according to two ranking News Corp. executives and others familiar with the situation," the story notes.
The talks are at the early stages, and a deal isn’t certain, while other potential purchasers are also interested, the story notes. The story mentions two other interested parties by name: "Austin Beutner, the former venture capitalist and ex-deputy mayor of Los Angeles," and "Aaron Kushner, the former greeting card executive who bought the Orange County Register and six small papers this year for about $400 million."
News Corp.’s holdings include The Wall Street Journal, The London Times and other newspapers.
"Acquiring the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune would give him strong footholds in the nation’s three largest media markets: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago," the story points out.
However, there are potential barriers to Murdoch ownership of the papers, the story notes: "Federal Communications Commission rules prevent owners from owning a newspaper and TV stations in the same market. News Corp. owns two Fox stations in L.A. and two in Chicago. The FCC has been considering eliminating the rule, and has granted exceptions in the past, including a waiver that has allowed Tribune to operate both KTLA-TV Channel 5 and the Los Angeles Times."
The article adds, "Murdoch’s lieutenants say he has long wanted to buy the Times. On trips to Los Angeles, he is known to mark up the newspaper with a Sharpie pen to illustrate how he would design pages."