After Tribune Publishing was blocked on Friday by the Department of Justice from purchasing the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise out of bankruptcy, it now appears that a company with even more newspapers in the region will be allowed to take its place.
A bankruptcy lawyer for Freedom Communications, the parent company of the Register and Press-Enterprise, has indicated that they plan to ask a judge on Monday to accept Digital First Media’s offer of $52.3 million for the two papers:
“It’s been very topsy-turvy, but my guess is that it’s over, because Tribune, I don’t believe, will be able to get the temporary restraining order removed in a timely manner,” said William Lobel, a lawyer with the Costa Mesa-based firm of Lobel Weiland Golden Friedman. “So we have determined, as the sellers, to take the bid of Digital First Media, and we will appear in court Monday to confirm the sale.”
Just a few weeks ago, Digital First Media, via its Bay Area News Group (BANG), announced a major consolidation of newspapers in the Bay Area. Beginning April 5, the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Hayward’s Daily Review and Fremont’s Argus will be replaced by the East Bay Times, while the San Jose Mercury News and San Mateo County News will be combined into the Mercury News. As part of this move, BANG also plans to reduce its newsroom staff by 20%.
Assuming the judge on Monday approves the sale, the question will then become whether any of the current Southern California DFM properties and operations are similarly combined with these new assets. Adjacent dailies in the portfolio include the Long Beach Press-Telegram, San Bernardino Sun, Redlands Daily Facts and Whittier Daily News.
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