The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today seeking to block the acquisition by Tribune Publishing Company, publisher of theLos Angeles Times, of Freedom Communications Inc., publisher of theRegisterin Orange County, California, and thePress-Enterprisein Riverside County, California. Tribune was selected as purchaser of Freedom's newspapers following a bankruptcy auction and will seek bankruptcy court approval of its acquisition on March 21. The department is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the sale to Tribune from proceeding.
According to the department's complaint, filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, theLos Angeles Timesand theRegistertogether account for 98 percent of newspaper sales in Orange County and theLos Angeles Timesand Freedom's newspapers together account for 81 percent of English-language newspaper sales in Riverside County. Tribune's acquisition of its most significant competitor would give it a monopoly over newspaper sales in each county and allow it to increase subscription prices, raise advertising rates and invest less to maintain the quality of its newspapers.
“If this acquisition is allowed to proceed, newspaper competition will be eliminated and readers and advertisers in Orange and Riverside Counties will suffer,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. “Newspapers continue to play an important role in the dissemination of news and information to readers and remain an important vehicle for advertisers. The Antitrust Division is committed to ensuring that competition in this important industry is protected.”
Tribune Publishing Company is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Chicago. It publishes 11 major daily newspapers across California, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Acquisition Would Monopolize Newspapers in Orange and Riverside Counties in California
Antitrust Updated March 17, 2016
The Department of Justice / 16-306 / March 17, 2016