U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman has sent a letter to Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori saying interviews with experts “raised serious concerns about the future of the Los Angeles Times” should the company go ahead with its plan to spin off its newspaper division.
Poynter’s Rick Edmonds is among the experts Waxman consulted.
Waxman is concerned about Tribune Co.’s plans to saddle the newspapers with debt and keep their real estate, but he also says the company’s plan to consolidate some newsgathering functions “raises concerns about the ability of the papers to continue putting resources into local coverage.” The plans, he says, “will place the long-term viability of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune papers at risk.”
In a statement to Poynter, Los Angeles Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein said that, “From our ongoing discussions, Congressman Waxman should by now be fully aware that the structure of the spin-off of Tribune Publishing is based on sound financial principles and a deep commitment to providing Tribune’s newspapers with a strong, long-term future.” He continues:
The assertions of the academics consulted by the Congressman provide no new insight and in many cases are simply wrong. As publisher of the Los Angeles Times for the last six years and soon-to-be Chairman of the Board of Tribune Publishing, I am extremely confident that the plan put forth by Tribune Company is sound, reasonable and will help protect and build a strong future for the Los Angeles Times and Tribune’s other newspapers for years to come.
Here’s the letter:
Related: Buzz off, Waxman — Congress can’t tell a newspaper how to do business (Reuters)