| Scholars & Rogues | The Trib is dead; long live the Trib?
Open Left | A Bankrupt LA Times and Sam Zell's Donations to Rahm Emanuel
Tribune is filing under Chapter 11, which permits reorganization, rather than Chapter 7, which oversees liquidation of assets. ... How about this crock ‘o’ candor from Sam Zell, who bought Tribune with other people’s money:
Over the last year, we have made significant progress internally on transitioning Tribune into an entrepreneurial company that pursues innovation and stronger ways of serving our customers. Unfortunately, at the same time, factors beyond our control have created a perfect storm — a precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy coupled with a credit crisis that makes it extremely difficult to support our debt.
Instead of improving those papers, corporations have turned them into cost-cutting enterprises, shedding staff and circulation. Now those corporations are actively seeking to unload big regional metros — The Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, the Rocky Mountain News — all to shed costs. If your daily paper is a big metropolitan daily, it’s for sale — you just haven’t been told that yet.
he Tribune took on most of its debt recently, in a transaction taking the company private put forward by billionaire conservative Sam Zell, who is widely known in media reform circles as one of the single worst influences on media policy in the country.
The FCC actually tried to block this transaction on the grounds that taking the Tribune private would require them to relax cross-ownership requirements. ...
he Teamsters, Common Cause, and the Media Access Project all argued that the sale of the Tribune would damage local communities, and with Zell's overleveraged strategy combined with immediate layoffs, they were right. But the FCC ignored their points and allowed Zell to proceed anyway. The question is why, and the answer, as usual in DC, is a mixture of influence peddling and social ties.
Last year, Emanuel and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., wrote to the Federal Communications Commission, urging the agency to act quickly on the sale of Tribune Co. to real-estate magnate Sam Zell. The lawmakers said the FCC shouldn't allow its review of its media- ownership rules to delay completion of the transaction.
Both Dick Durbin and Rahm Emanuel received substantial donations from the predominantly right-wing Zell, with Emanuel having an especially close set of ties. ...
None of this is to allege some sort of conspiracy, as local media barons tend to have a great amount of power everywhere. In fact, the story, while fetid, is only different because Zell combined several forms of acceptable legal corruption in one set of egregious moves.