THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Earlier this morning, the behemoth Chicago Tribune Co. was sold to local pottymouth real estate mogul Sam Zell.
The Tribune's massive holdings include 11 leading daily newspapers, 23 television stations, and popular news, information and entertainment websites.
Locally, the Tribune owns The Chicago Tribune newspaper, cable network Superstation WGN-Channel 9 and WGN-AM radio – which isn’t a conflict of interest at all. They also own the Cubs baseball team, which is also slated to be sold.
From today's Chicago Tribune newspaper (I know, I know):
Early Monday, following a weekend of heated negotiations, the company's board accepted a revised $34-dollar-a-share proposal from Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell to take the company private in a complex, $13 billion deal structured around an employee stock ownership plan.
In addition, the Tribune said it intends to sell the Chicago Cubs and its 25 percent stake in local sports cable channel Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
Despite Saturday's post, I hope whoever buys the team doesn't move them to the suburbs.
Or worse, another city.
(The baseball team is slated to be sold after this season ends. Interestingly, next year marks the 100th anniversary of the last Cubs World Series victory).
And can anyone imagine WGN-TV without the Cubs? It would be like ashtanga yoga without ujjayi breath. Yoga without Yama and Niyama. Steve without Garry.
Who knows what will happen. The only thing we know for sure is that new owner Zell is mad -- mad I tell ya:
The transaction will place Zell, the motorcycle riding, epithet slinging multibillionaire, who just two months ago closed the $39 billion sale of his sprawling real estate company, atop of one of the most conservative, buttoned-down companies in America.
It gives a risk-taking financier with no background in journalism control over a set of venerable newspapers that includes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, and big television stations, such as WGN-Ch. 9. And by dialing up the financial pressure on Tribune, the transaction will force the company and its new employee owners to find answers to questions that have been bedeviling the newspaper and television industries ever since the Internet started stealing their customers more than a decade ago.
Well, at least the Chicago Tribune newspaper will remain local.
Maybe Zell will sell the LA Times to the consortium there that wants to buy it.
And maybe now RCN will be able to carry CLTV News, which, like New York One, does a halfway decent job of covering the extremely local news.
Currently, the Tribune-owned 24-hour news channel is carried exclusively by Comcast because of the Trib's unholy deal with Comcast SportsNet. It requires that only Comcast stations carry CLTV.
In other words, most Chicagoans -- those who who subscribe to a competing cable company or have no cable at all -- cannot get the station.
And who says consolidation hasn't benefitted the consumer?
Dusty Baker billboard pic snapped in front of Wrigley Field just one day after the Cubs manager was fired last year.