Corporate Power/Consolidation

Rocky Mountain News shuts down this week

Catherine Tsai, AP

The Rocky Mountain News (Denver) will publish its last edition Friday.

Owner E.W. Scripps Co. announced on the newspaper's Web site Thursday that its search for a buyer for the paper was unsuccessful.

"Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges," Scripps CEO Rich Boehne said.

Scripps said the paper lost $16 million last year.

Boehne said the paper's 230 editorial employees would be paid through April 28.

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Hearst threatens to close SF Chronicle

George Avalos, Contra Costa Times

The San Francisco Chronicle, a newspaper industry icon, is teetering on the brink of collapse unless it can find a buyer or wring painful concessions from its employee unions. If the Chronicle can't obtain the necessary cost reductions, the paper will be put up for sale or closed, Hearst Corp., the owner of the Chronicle, said Tuesday. The cost savings must occur "within weeks," according to a statement released by Hearst.

"Given the losses the Chronicle continues to sustain, the time to implement these changes cannot be long," Frank Bennack, Hearst's chief executive, and Steven Swartz, Hearst's president, said in a joint release. "These changes are designed to give the Chronicle the best possible chance to survive."

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Protesting racist cartoon, Sharption calls for review of Murdoch's NY media ownership waiver

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The Rev. Al Sharpton and several New York city council members want the FCC to pull News Corp.'s waiver that allows it to own two TV stations-WNEW and WWOR-serving the New York market. Sharpton's National Action Network is collecting signatures on an online petition in an effort to get the FCC to review the waiver, arguing it gives the company too much control of the media market. News Corp. also owns the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.

The petition drive was prompted in part by a New York Post cartoon that used the killing of a rampaging chimpanzee to criticize President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package, suggesting to some an ugly slur from the nation's racist past. The Post apologized for offending anyone, but Sharpton and others were not assuaged.

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Philadelphia papers seek bankruptcy


The owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News filed for bankruptcy late Sunday night after talks aimed at restructuring their heavy debt load broke down, executives said.

The papers will continue to operate and will remain under local control, said Brian Tierney, publisher of The Inquirer and the leader of a group of local investors who bought the papers in 2006, one of several newspaper deals from that era that have gone bad as the industry’s revenues have plunged.

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Broadband as stimulus

Rebecca Cole, The Swamp/Chicago Tribune

In Martin County, Ky., a remote corner of Appalachia, it can take hours to reach a distant doctor's office, a simple cholesterol check costing a miner a day's work.

"It's a long way from an office building to the mine," says Dr. Raymond Wells.

So amid the secluded mountains and hollers where President Lyndon Johnson announced his war on poverty, Wells, who has practiced medicine in the coal fields for 40 years, has brought medical care to the mine, serving 1,115 people where they work with a nurse practitioner on-site and the physician holding high-speed Internet videoconferences with patients.

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Re. the P-I's online plan

Eli Sanders, Slog/The Stranger

While I work on a longer print story about plans for a new, online-only P-I, a few more thoughts about what I've heard and what I'm now seeing.

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Newspaper publishers seek tax cut from WA Legislature

Rachel La Corte, Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Newspaper publishers implored lawmakers on Wednesday to give them a temporary break on the state's main business tax, saying that some of the state's papers are "holding on by our fingertips."

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen and Scott Campbell, publisher of The Columbian in Vancouver, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee they need help during tumultuous times in the industry.

Under the proposed measure, the business and occupation tax on newspapers would be cut by 40 percent through 2015.

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Sirius XM already talking bankruptcy

Eliot Van Buskirk, Wired Epicenter

The Sirius and XM satellite radio companies may have succeeded in merging, but their combined company could declare bankruptcy within the year. The New York Times reports that Sirius XM has hired lawyers to prepare a possible bankruptcy filing, and its CEO Mel Karmazin has been in talks with television satellite company EchoStar about a potential acquisition of his company.

The company's main obstacle is that floating satellites high above the earth is an expensive and increasingly unnecessary means of distributing music, which could be one reason the company has been using its satellites for other purposes since at least last year.

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AT&T's "U-verse" goves short shrift to community access TV.

DavidGreising, Chicago Tribune

AT&T has cutting-edge technology and a beefy balance sheet, but the company's handling of community programming channels in Illinois and other states is putting a big black blot on its sky-blue logo.

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Sale of Blethen Maine papers moves forward

Associated Press

An investment group has said it has found a lead investor for its acquisition of Blethen Maine Newspapers.

Richard Connor, the leader of Maine Media Investment LLC, said HM Capital Partners in Dallas will be responsible for putting together a financing package for the purchase of the company.

Connor told the Portland Press Herald that he still needs to involve a bank in the deal and is in discussions with three Maine banks, but that he hopes to complete the acquisition within 30 days.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey