The Justice Department has extended until Monday the period for possible bids for the Chicago Sun-Times amid what appears to be interest by one or more parties.

In a note to staff early Wednesday, Publisher-Editor Jim Kirk updated his staff in a note that implied that there's been some interest displayed since the government essentially ordered the paper to run an ad soliciting bids.

"As you know, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division asked that we run an ad announcing that the Sun-Times was up for sale, which we did in the May 16 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. We also announced that we have a Letter of Intent from Tronc Inc., owner of the Chicago Tribune and several other media titles."

That deal with the Tribune has been seen as virtually assured after the Sun-Times corporate parents surveyed multiple possible bidders and came up dry.

As Kirk noted, the ad indicated the process would remain open for 15 days, or until June 1. If any interest was manifested, the process would be extended.

So now those who have come forward since the ad appear, even if only as a tentative look-see, "will be given until 5 p.m., June 5th, to provide an initial offer," Kirk wrote.

The conventional wisdom is that in the long run two papers can't survive and that existing agreements between the Chicago papers — for example, the Tribune prints and distributes the Sun-Times — makes a combination a case study in virtue out of necessity.