Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Would Reilly fight Chronicle sale to MNG?

When Hearst announced it might close the Chronicle if it couldn't cut its costs, speculation began that the San Francisco paper might be sold to MediaNews Group, the Denver-based chain that owns most of the area's paid dailies including the San Jose Mercury News.

But the last time the two companies tried to collaborate, they were hit with a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by San Francisco real estate developer Clint Reilly. The chains settled with Reilly by agreeing to keep the Chron and MNG papers separate and restricting Hearst's investment in MNG to assets outside the Bay Area. Reilly even got a column in the MediaNews papers.

Will Harper of the SF Weekly asked Reilly if he'd try to stop Hearst from selling the Chronicle to MediaNews.

"I would have to see how events unfolded before I would decide what I would do," Reilly said carefully.

Reilly also said: "I'm not going to do anything thoughtless or ill-considered. ... This is serious stuff."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Reilly would again strike a deal with MNG whereby he would get free advertising space to run his weekly blog, much like he has now with MNG newspapers.
The problem with Reilly's previous court battle is that it really didn't affect him, after all, he wasn't in the readership base for MNG's newspapers.
The real problem with that merger was that it forced the loss of distinct and separate editorial voices in the Tri-Valley area, where the merger forced the closure of one of two newspapers: the Tri-Valley Herald and the Valley Times.
Because of the merger, there is no local coverage and whatever watchdog on government there once was is gone. The news staff does NOT cover any of the Tri-Valley city councils, school boards, planning commissions, park districts or any other governmental agency.
What Tri-Valley readers have is "local" news from Tracy, Lafayette, Concord, Oakland, San Jose and everywhere else except their home base.
But at least Reilly gets his free column every so often.

Anonymous said...

A question: while it seems obvious Singleton would want the Chron, where would he get the money to buy it?

Anonymous said...

He'd probably cut the workforce at East Bay newspapers and then use SF Chronicle writers to fill the holes there, much like he's done throughout his other East Bay Newspapers.
If you think about it, many of MNG's newspapers are no longer local but more regional. And given that the Chronicle is also a regional newspaper, it would make sense to use its stories.

Anonymous said...

Basically Hearst would be selling the paper to themselves. MNG would imeediately cut pensions and reduce the workforce, which would more than cover the loss of profit the Chron is experiencing.

Make no mistake about it the Chronicle wasn't putting the union on notice when they annnounced that they might be closing, but it was priming the pump with the DOJ. The DOJ would not stand in front of this if they feared that the paper was closing.

Hearst would redo the terms of the loan and hand it over to MNG, since MNG loves to screw the unions as well to get concessions.

Anonymous said...

Singleton probably wouldn't need any money to buy the Chron. Hearst would hand him the paper in return for a larger share in MNG. Hearst could write off maybe a billion or so spent on the Chron as a loss. Hearst comes out money ahead on the deal.