Tribune Publishing’s bid for OC Register faces antitrust hurdles, DOJ says – Los Angeles Times

A purchase of the Orange County Register and other newspapers by the parent company of the Los Angeles Times could raise antitrust issues by depriving readers and advertisers of competition, the U.S. Department of Justice has said.

The department’s antitrust division told Freedom Communications, the bankrupt owner of the Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise, that it would intervene if the company and its creditors select Tribune Publishing at Wednesday’s auction.

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“The division believes that the acquisition of Freedom assets by Tribune Publishing Company poses a serious risk of harming newspaper readers and advertisers in Orange County and Riverside County,” Assistant Atty. Gen. William Baer, head of the antitrust division, wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to an attorney representing Freedom.

The letter adds a potential complication to the auction, which was shaping up to be a battle among three companies with strong local interests: Digital First Media, which owns the Los Angeles Daily News; Tribune Publishing; and a group of Freedom insiders backed by Orange County real estate developer Mike Harrah.

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