‘LA Times’ Predicts Murdoch Will Buy ‘WSJ’ — and Chandlers Will Take Power Again

By: E&P Staff

Staffers in the Los Angeles Times’ business section made their annual predictions today, forecasting three surprises (becoming less so every day, perhaps) in the newspaper industry, reprinted below.

The annual predictions are “based on interviews with analysts, investors and executives, along with some educated guesswork,” the article related.

Here are the three scoops.

–The Chandlers’ comeback: Tribune Co. is bought by the Los Angeles newspaper dynasty that is its largest shareholder, which is intent on avoiding a huge tax bill had the company ? owner of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs, KTLA-TV Channel 5 and many other properties ? been sold off piecemeal.

It’s hardly the result anticipated when, in mid-2006, the family began agitating for management to spin off its broadcasting arm to lift the wilting stock price.

— Big Media scores again: The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission narrowly votes to loosen media ownership restrictions, making media companies happy but angering the new Democratic majority in Congress, which tries to fight back with legislation.

TV station values jump as the rules allow companies with newspapers to own broadcasters in the same city. But the changes are too late for Tribune, which had snapped up newspapers including The Times expecting restrictions to melt away sooner.

–Murdoch lands the Journal: News Corp. adds to its stable of newspapers by buying Dow Jones & Co., owner of the Wall Street Journal, to bolster Rupert Murdoch’s nascent business news cable channel, a companion to his Fox News juggernaut.

Some investors are furious that Murdoch would spend $5 billion on an old-line media acquisition when a purchase of CNet Networks Inc. could fill a similar need for a fraction of the price.

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