Antitrust lawsuit filed against LA Times parent company after it places top bid for OC Register

106288-fullKPCC is reporting that the parent company of the Los Angeles Times has had an anti-trust lawsuit filed against them.  The company said Thursday they won a public bankruptcy auction to buy Freedom Communications, the owner of several Southern California newspapers, including the Orange County Register. The Justice Department responded by filing an antitrust lawsuit to stop the Times from acquiring both the Register and another Freedom holding, the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The Justice Department said in a statement that it filed a civil antitrust lawsuit Thursday to block the acquisition, seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the sale from proceeding.

The statement said that the L.A. Times and the Register account for 98 percent of Orange County newspaper sales, with the Times and Freedom’s newspaper’s making up 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,” the statement said.

Tribune Publishing Co. had agreed to pay $56 million in cash for the business and its real estate in Santa Ana and Riverside.

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