The Wall Street Journal
News Corp.’s publishing business may “pursue acquisitions of distressed newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times” after its planned split from the company’s media and entertainment divisions, John Jannarone reports. Reports of Rupert Murdoch’s interest in that title have been bouncing around since at least this past June, when the split was announced.
“News Corp executives — including Murdoch’s son James — flew into Los Angeles twice this month to take a preliminary look at the storied daily’s books,” Reuters initially reported Saturday. The LA Times says Murdoch is also interested in the Chicago Tribune. Both papers are owned by the Tribune Company, which is expected to exit bankruptcy this year. Also interested in the Times, which could sell for $400 million it reports, are Doug Manchester, new owner of U-T San Diego, and Aaron Kushner, new owner of the Orange County Register.
Reuters later updated its story to say that News Corp. called reports of discussions with Tribune “wholly inaccurate.”
Buying the Times would offer Murdoch a second bite of the apple, Los Angeles-wise. News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group bought the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998 and sold the team for $420 million in 2004 to Frank McCourt. Earlier this year the team was sold out of bankruptcy for $2 billion. Fox “has already offered the team a 17-year extension valued at nearly $3 billion” to broadcast Dodgers games, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal reported at the time of the sale. “Who would have thought that McCourt—in his own semi-lucky way—would’ve outfoxed Murdoch?” Monte Burke wrote on Forbes after the sale.
Of course, News Corp. already owns certain other assets associated with Southern California.