Waxman: Tribune Co. Spin-Off Amounts to Looting of Newspapers

Image: Waxman: Tribune Co. Spin-Off Amounts to Looting of Newspapers

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 03:29 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Rep. Henry Waxman has requested documents from the Tribune Company about a proposed plan to split its newspaper operation, which he fears could jeopardize the future of the Los Angeles Times and other papers owned by the company.

The California Democrat is concerned about reports Tribune may spin off the Times and other daily newspapers it owns into a different business called Tribune Publishing, which would then have to pay a dividend to the Tribune Company, reports public radio station KPCC.

Waxman asked for the documents in a letter to the company Monday, ahead of a meeting he has scheduled with Tribune officials on Jan. 15.

"It appears that you are putting onerous conditions on the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers that could jeopardize their survival as a separate entity," the congressman wrote in a letter Monday to Tribune President and CEO Peter Liguori. "At a minimum, you appear to be putting profits of the Tribune Company ahead of the interests of the public in viable local newspapers."

The restructuring of the Tribune Company, according to paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, will force the Times to pay a large cash dividend to Tribune, putting the paper in debt. In addition to taking on loans to meet the debt, the paper will also be forced to rent its own building from the Tribune Company, Politico reports.

"These actions make it appear as if the Tribune Company is looting the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers before the spinoff," Waxman charged in his letter.

"We look forward to meeting with Congressman Waxman's office next week and to the opportunity to demonstrate that our plans for our publishing business are focused on it being a successful stand-alone company," a Tribune spokesperson said in a statement carried by Politico.

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