Magazine article Editor & Publisher

With MediaNews OK'd to Buy 'Tribune'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

With MediaNews OK'd to Buy 'Tribune'

Article excerpt

Salt Lake's shakin' and stirred

Now that a judge has given the go-ahead to the planned sale of The Salt Lake Tribune, the afternoon Deseret News plans to fulfill its long- stated goal of switching to morning publication by September, maybe as early as June.

"We will, now that we know where we're going, move to morning as quickly as possible," L. Glen Snarr, president and chairman of the Deseret News Publishing Co., said last week.

Snarr said the News is working on a conversion plan and exploring options to buy a new press, but believes it can begin publishing in the morning without one.

His confidence was fueled by a Dec. 22 federal court decision that gave the AT&T Corp. the green light to proceed with selling the Tribune to William Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group Inc. for $200 million. The management company that operates the Tribune had challenged the sale, arguing that AT&T had agreed to sell the paper to the managers and that Singleton planned to violate agreements that give the managers the right to operate the paper and buy it July 31, 2002.

News managers believe the paper needs to convert to the a.m. cycle, head-to-head against the Tribune -- or it will follow other p.m. papers into the twilight of extinction.

The News' circulation fell from 71,872 in 1980 to 60,775 in 1990, but has since risen to 65,912. Disagreements with the Tribune, its joint operating agreement (JOA) partner, over the conversion cost and who should pay have kept the conversion from going forward. Singleton is expected to be amenable to amending the JOA, which the News says favors the Tribune.

U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell in Utah ruled that the managers failed to show Singleton intends to violate the agreements. "It is, quite simply, the wrong time and place for [the managers] to raise its concerns about uncertain breaches of contract by MNG . …

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