Triumphant Tribune  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   April 2000

Triumphant Tribune   

Tribune Co. acquires Times Mirror Co. in an $8 billion stock-and-cash deal that promises both a new-media advantage for Tribune and old- media ascendancy.

By AJR Staff
     


Media merger Monday strikes again, surprising most everyone in the industry. Tribune Co. acquires Times Mirror Co. in an $8 billion stock-and-cash deal that promises both a new-media advantage for Tribune and old- media ascendancy. Times Mirror's Los Angeles Times; Baltimore Sun; Newsday; Hartford Courant; Allentown, Pennsylvania, Morning Call; Stamford, Connecticut, Advocate; and 18 magazines will now fall under the control of Tribune, owner of the Chicago Tribune; Orlando Sentinel; Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel; Newport News, Virginia, Daily Press; the Chicago Cubs; and 22 TV stations. Though the new company will be ranked third in combined daily newspaper circulation, with 3.6 million, the merger also produces attractive multimedia markets and content for Web sites. "Tribune also has come to realize--in Orlando, Chicago and Fort Lauderdale--a combination of media..can be very beneficial," says David M. Cole, editor and publisher of the industry newsletter, NewsInc. Times Mirror has a "weak" Internet strategy, Cole says, but lots of content and valued brand names. Tribune, conversely, knows the Web, and Cole expects the company to build a mountain of sites to create a sought-after niche on the Internet. Look for Tribune to challenge the Federal Communications Commission on owning newspapers and TV stations in the same market. It's something the FCC now forbids, though Tribune won't have to seriously contend with the issue until some of its TV licenses come up for renewal in 2005. In L.A., many are saddened to contemplate the lack of a locally owned daily in the country's second-largest city. "It's kind of mind-boggling when you think about it," says Times legal affairs writer Henry Weinstein. But for the Chandler family--owner of the Times with the Otis family for more than 100 years--the move is a lucrative escape from an unhappy situation. "I think there's no question that the Chandler family felt pretty heavy-duty buffeted by the [Times Mirror Chairman and CEO Mark] Willes administration," Cole says.

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