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The La Jolla Patch reported at almost midnight Monday (Feb. 11) that U-T San Diego publisher Papa Doug Manchester mistakenly told a Republican women's group yesterday that he was in negotiations to buy the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and other papers. Late last night, says Patch, U-T San Diego chief executive John Lynch explained that Manchester, who had just returned from traveling, misunderstood a question from the audience and indicated the U-T was interested in the Tribune. Patch quoted people who attended the speech stating they definitely heard Manchester say he was in negotiations for the purchase. This morning, Voice of San Diego quoted a Patch editor saying that Manchester had made the statement. The question of who may or may not be bidding for the Tribune Co., which emerged from a lengthy bankruptcy at the end of December, has been a subject of rumors for some time.

Comments
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If true, I hope an L.A. billionaire (David Geffen, Ron Burkle, Eli Broad, etc.) will step up and keep the Doug-man from doing this. Any of them can buy and sell Manchester.

Feb. 12, 2013

dwbat: Many LA billionaires can buy and sell Manchester. But would any want the LA Times or any metro daily newspaper? If the price is low enough, yes. The extended Tribune bankruptcy was a mare's nest. Negotiating for a piece or all of that company would be messy, messy, messy. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

Actually, Geffen did originally want to buy the LA Times, but was outbid by the bad boy Sam Zell. Geffen would have been a much better owner. But now I don't think he's at all interested.

Feb. 12, 2013

dwbat: If memory serves me right, Geffen was once interested in LA Times, but dropped out. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

Zell didn't outid Geffen for the LA Times, he just went ahead and bought the whole Tribune conglomerate. Zell met with Geffen about a possible sale of the LAT. I had read that Geffen's offer was $2 million but Zell wanted at least $2.5, possibly more because of the tax implications of spinning off the LAT from Tribune. And don't forget that only about 3yrs ago, Geffen was "interested" in buying NYT. At one point, he offered a $250 million "loan" when NYT had cash flow problems, but instead they took a loan from Carlos Slim. I read one aricle in NY Magazine that he actually wanted to take over control of the paper and tern it into a non-profit.

Feb. 12, 2013

tomjohnston: You must mean his offer was $2 billion, not $2 million. It's a mistake that is easily made. I saw one time Geffen claim he didn't actually try to buy the Times, but wanted to look at the books and was refused. But that may not be true, admittedly. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 13, 2013

Yes, a typo. There are several LAT articles in which it is written that Geffen offered $2billion for LAT, which was about 10x it's cash flow, but Tribune rebuffed his offer to buy just the paper. This was before the Eli Broad/Ron Burkle offer to buy Tribune for $8billion, which at the time was higher than Zell's bid.

Feb. 13, 2013

tomjohnston: And the Zell deal turned out to be a disaster -- one in which employees got taken to the cleaners. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2013

The LAT is my favorite paper, always has been, PaPa Doug will kill it for me if he takes over, and he will kill the paper's readership.

Feb. 12, 2013

SurfPup: Papa Doug doesn't want skeptics like you reading his newspapers. His target market consists of those naifs who believe in the beauty of the way and the goodness of the wayfarers -- those who swallow his version of the news and believe it. He said as much when he bought the U-T, making it clear he viewed it as a propaganda organ, not a newspaper. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

If he still thinks of his two local papers as good investments, for whatever reasons including some that are non-financial, I'd be surprised. But in the LA market Dougie would be a small fish in a large pond vs. his status here as a big fish in a small pond. Big difference, and he could get his head handed to him taking over something like the Tribune Co.

Feb. 12, 2013

Visduh: I suspect that whoever buys Tribune properties, or the entire company, will be going to the guillotine involuntarily. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

"...he could get his head handed to him taking over something like the Tribune Co."

By whom? If you own the LA Times you automatically become a big fish.

He certainly could not do any worse that Sam Zell did when he bankrupted the finances and culture of the Tribune Company.

Feb. 12, 2013

Bob: For Sam Zell, it was a real estate deal. He wasn't interested in the media products. Manchester stated when he took over the U-T that he viewed it as a proselytizing tool, not a newspaper. That won't fly in LA, Chicago, or the Tribune's other papers, particularly those in Florida. I don't think it has flown in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

Zell has his fingers all over San Diego, through his Equity Residential company. Equity owns several large apt. complexes here, including the failed-condo-development Vantage Pointe downtown. They have even more in greater LA.

Feb. 13, 2013

dwbat: Some time ago he bought a restaurant whose name escapes me. He has bought and proposed several projects. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 13, 2013

Do you mean the Chart House? Zell spent about $20 million for about 1/3 of the company about 15 yrs ago. A few months later, he moved their headquarters from Solano Beach to Chicago. About 10 yrs ago he sold about 60% of the chain to Landry's, including those in Ca. We haven't been to the one in Cardiff for probably a year at least, but we eat at the one in Malibu quite a bit.

Feb. 14, 2013

tomjohnston: Yes, it was the Chart House. I once called it the Charnel House. Thanks for the update. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2013

How? It is unlikely that ol' Doug could resist the temptation to do the same things to the LA Times and the Tribune that he did to our local rags. But the readers in those cities would not take it with the sense of resignation that San Diegans did the ongoing dumbing down. I'd guess that circulation would plummet and advertisers might just decide not to enable the destruction of the papers. Couldn't he just take the company down a few more notches and/or BK again?

Feb. 12, 2013

Visduh: If Papa Doug took over the LA Times, Tribune, and the other papers, and then announced that he would not influence content a whit, it would be an admission that he has failed in San Diego. Remember, his U-T is based on a lie. Papa Doug and Lynch will say with a straight face that they only interfere with content on the editorial page. But from the outset, they said that local businesses would be considered heroic and any reporter covering a downtown Chargers stadium would have to be for it, and also denounce anyone opposing it. This is not interfering with reporting? It is talking out of both sides of your mouth.

That brings us to yesterday's revelation/retraction. A company saying it is NOT negotiating to buy another company has as much credibility as a politician claiming he will NOT be running for a particular office. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

The denial could be taken as confirmation that they are indeed negotiating. If they said nothing, ignoring the rumors, that could be taken as a denial with more credibility than an announced retraction.

That lie is more and more obvious every day. The reporting on the abandonment of the Balboa Park "plan" by Jacobs was anything but balanced, and the "analysis" piece was a whitewash.

Feb. 12, 2013

Visduh: Correct. The denial may have been issued because at that point, both sides had agreed the negotiations would be secret. Or negotiations had not gotten far enough to make a public revelation. In any case, there are probably a number of individuals and investor groups eyeing the Tribune properties, including the LA Times. But I would not expect much of a bidding war. I think these papers will go cheap, simply because of the industry's woes. And I agree with you on the Manchester/Lynch falsehoods: just look at some of the coverage. It is clearly orchestrated by ownership. Plus, I personally know about some egregious examples of the ownership interfering with reportorial coverage, but in some cases I have been sworn to secrecy. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2013

LA Observed reported that the LA Times is leasing out floors and offices in their huge downtown mausoleum, uhh I mean offices, to increase revenue. www.laobserved.com/archive/2012/12/la_times_building_welcome.php I'm sure that will increase with the new owner(s), or else they will try to sell the Times buildings again now that downtown real estate in LA is booming.

Feb. 13, 2013

dwbat: I would suspect a new owner would try to squeeze the maximum out of the real estate. Indeed, the real estate might be the raison d'etre for any deal. And you are correct: commercial real estate in LA is coming back strong. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2013

Give Dougie a chance--maybe he could do worse.

Feb. 13, 2013

aardvark: Do worse than who? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 13, 2013

Sorry--it was a reference to a post above that mentioned Sam Zell. My post appeared in the wrong place. My fault.

Feb. 13, 2013

aardvark: Don't necessarily blame yourself for a post that appears in the wrong place. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2013

In a KPBS story, Manchester was quoted: "We certainly are going to look at it," Manchester said. "We are looking at it, yes. I would like to, yes."

..http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/oct/18/ut-san-diego-owner-doug-manchester-shows-interest-/..

Manchester also said "U-T circulation has turned around since he (Manchester) bought the paper last December"

I would appreciate an update of ABC audit figures on the UT-San Diego. I don't believe his circulation is up by any metrics. Only if Manchester is doing math by folding the North County Times subscriber numbers into the UT figures.

Edit: The KPBS story is from October, 2012.

Feb. 13, 2013

Ponzi: I will answer both questions. First, Manchester's claim to KPBS that circulation had gone up gave me a belly laugh. Of course it had gone up. That same month, Manchester's paper had completed purchase of the North County Times.

According to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, U-T circulation basically dropped between Sept. 30, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012. Sunday circulation dropped from 368,723 in the period to 351,682. Monday-Friday dropped from 227,872 to 208,931. Saturday circulation rose, mainly because of a rise in branded editions, or versions of the paper having a different nameplate and content. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 13, 2013

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