By: Lucis Moses
The U.S. Justice Department is forcing Village Voice Media and NT Media to sell the assets of their now-defunct Cleveland Free Times and New Times Los Angeles to settle what it considers a case of market-splitting by the two leading alternative-weekly chains. But who will want to buy them?
Purchasers would face obvious barriers in trying to restart the papers. Publisher Martin Albornoz of Los Angeles Alternative Press, which has already moved to fill the void, said of the assets for sale, the New Times L.A. name is now tainted and its advertiser list “worthless.”
The government-ordered sale could be largely symbolic if, as Daniel Gray-Kontar, publisher of Cleveland’s new alternative monthly, Urban Dialect, predicted, a revived Free Times becomes at best a trailing paper — if it doesn’t “close down almost as quickly as it opens” in the face of the market-leading Cleveland Scene.