Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Salt Lake Tribune' Sale in Court

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Salt Lake Tribune' Sale in Court

Article excerpt

AT&T to be called before the bar

Lawyers for the management company that runs The Salt Lake Tribune are scheduled to go to federal court today to seek an order to stop the planned sale of Utah's biggest daily to MediaNews Group Inc.

The management company, whose owners include members of the family that owned the paper for much of the past 100 years, thought it had a deal Nov. 17 to buy the paper from the AT&T Corp. for $180 million. Eleven days later, AT&T struck a deal to sell it to Denver-based MediaNews for an undisclosed sum, court papers say.

In a lawsuit against AT&T and MediaNews, the managers maintain they have the right to buy the 134,542-circulation morning paper from AT&T, which gained control of the daily when it merged with cable company Tele-Communications Inc. last year. TCI got the paper in 1997 from the heirs of U.S. Sen. Thomas Kearns.

The legal eruption underscores a long-standing feud between the Tribune and its joint operating agreement (JOA) partner, The Deseret News, an afternoon paper with a circulation of 65,912.

The managers have long maintained that the Mormon Church, which owns the News, seeks to stifle the Tribune's independent voice, and they claim that MediaNews CEO and President William Dean Singleton, a Baptist, is fronting for the News and the church. …

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