Tribune Co. loses out on California newspaper sale

March 21, 2016

news 1Following interference from the United States Department of Justice, the Tribune Publishing Company has lost its opportunity to corner the Southern California newspaper market. A competing publisher is now set to purchase a Southern California newspaper portfolio. [USA Today]

At a bankruptcy auction, Tribune Publishing was selected as the purchaser of Freedom Communications Inc, which owns the Orange County Register and the Riverside County Press-Enterprise. In the Southern California market, Tribune Publishing owns the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

On Thursday, the DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in federal court in attempt to stop Tribune Publishing from purchasing Freedom Communications. The DOJ’s complaint said the Tribune would monopolize newspapers in Orange and Riverside counties if it were to acquire the Register and Press-Enterprise.

Digital First Media, a Denver-based company that owns the Los Angeles Daily News, the Long Beach Press-Telegram and a cluster of Bay Area newspapers, was the second highest bidder at the  bankruptcy auction. After the DOJ filed the antitrust suit, Freedom Communications announced it would sell to Digital First Media.

Freedom Communications cited regulatory hurdles facing Tribune Publishing as the reason it would not sell to the higher bidder. The bankrupt publisher was under pressure to complete the sale quickly because its financing is scheduled to end on March 31.

Tribune Publishing bid almost $4 million more than Digital First. The Tribune company bid $56 million for Freedom Communications’ assets, and Digital First bid $52.3 million.

Freedom Communications also owns numerous local publications in Orange County, as well as some weekly newspapers in Los Angles and Riverside counties. Digital First’s California portfolio includes the San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

In recent years, publishers have been purchasing clusters of California newspapers with the intent of sharing journalistic and business duties among sister publications located in the same regions. Tribune Publishing had been carving up the Southern California market, while Digital First and the McClatchy Company were clustering papers in the Bay Area and Central Valley respectively.



  1. Rich in MB says:

    Tribune Who…is that rag still in print?
    Hmmm….who would have known, certainly not readers or advertisers.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. ConfedOfDunces says:

    DOJ? Who can blame the government. Pick on the one who gave them their Royal Ass.ingnment.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. shelworth says:

    I understand the history of the monopoly laws in this country and why we have to have them, but in all seriousness who gets all their information from just newspapers? With TV, radio, internet, etc. why can’t this one sale go through?

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
    • kettle says:

      “why can’t this one sale go through?”

      It could, just not fast enough for the bankruptcy. An exception? sure, then every deal will want an exception. Remember the seller gets to choose.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • achillesheal says:

        This reply makes no sense.

        The sale did not go through because the DOSJ prevented it. A company being auctioned in a bankruptcy sale has no discretion over who purchases.
        More typical government over reach.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. shelworth says:

    Whew, for a minute I thought the Tribune was going out of business, and was wondering what I would line my birdcage with!

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  5. vmmill42 says:

    Excellent news.

    (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  6. mej says:


    (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
  7. achillesheal says:

    This ruling is a great example of the over reach of the federal government. We have gone from US v Standard Oil in which the Supreme Ct ruled that Standard Oil imposed a monopoly on the entire petroleum industry, to US v Microsoft in which the claim was Microsoft monopozing personal computer sales, to the DOJ stopping a newspaper from having a monopoly in a county in California.

    What’s next?

    Will they shut down Firestone Grill in San Luis Obispo if they try to purchae MO’s because they’ll have a monopoly on tri-tip sales in SLO?

    Keep voting for bigger government. All of those agencies and their 10’s of thousands of employees need to figure out new and creative ways to justify their existence.

    (1) 15 Total Votes - 8 up - 7 down
    • shelworth says:

      Think of the horrors that would ensue if some unscrupulous person had a monopoly on the news! Why you might only get a one sided view of what’s going on out there! How horrible it would be if all the printed media in this county was left leaning! What ever would we do?

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
      • achillesheal says:

        The irony is that the Action by the Department of Selective Justice likely cost a lot of people their jobs and a lot of creditors their assets by blocking the sale of a bankrupt company to a bidder.

        So much for the competitive bidding process. Way to go DOSJ.

        (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
        • kettle says:

          achillesheal says: “likely cost a lot of people their jobs ”

          No silly, poor management led to bankruptcy and job loss not the governments fault.

          Also the competitive bidding process worked, the next highest bid won the deal, this is how commerce works.

          But blame the government if it makes you feel better.

          (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
          • achillesheal says:

            Commerce works through government rigging it. You prove my point.

            Not something they were ever intended to do in the constitution, however, the commerce clause has become government can do anything it wants.

            From which branch of government do you draw your subsistence?

            (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
            • kettle says:

              “From which branch of government do you draw your subsistence?”

              None, fully employed by local business.

              Although decades ago I was stoned and homeless, wintering on a steam grate behind a library. Then I did get some gov and private help, food etc.

              Now the Slo house and 4 year old car are paid for (no bank’s), taxes all paid. The new kitchen project starts this summer.

              So no, not all of the homeless are slackers.

              (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

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