U.S. Sues to Stop Big Newspaper Acquisition

Motorists make their way out of downtown Los Angeles headed east on the Interstate 10 freeway on August 30, 2013 in California, where more Southern California residents are taking Labor Day weekend trips this year compared to in 2012, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Some 2.44 million residents have plans for a trip of at least 50 miles from home this Labour Day weekend, with about 1.93 million expected to drive, up 6.2 percent from 1.82 million last year, according to the Auto Club. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Frederic J. Brown — AFP/Getty Images

Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on Thursday aimed at blocking Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times, from acquiring papers in nearby Orange and Riverside Counties, saying the acquisition would lessen competition.

Tribune Publishing (TPUB) had planned to buy bankrupt Freedom Communications. Tribune had said on Thursday that it was paying $56 million for Freedom, which publishes Orange County’s Register and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside County.

The Justice Department said that the Tribune purchase of Freedom would give it 98% of newspaper sales in Orange County and 81 percent of English-speaking newspaper sales in Riverside.

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“If this acquisition is allowed to proceed, newspaper competition will be eliminated and readers and advertisers in Orange and Riverside Counties will suffer,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, in a statement.

Tribune did not reply to a request for comment on the Justice Department’s lawsuit.

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