MediaNews Settles Long Dispute in Salt Lake City

By: A settlement has been reached in a long and contentious legal battle over ownership of the Salt Lake Tribune, but no financial details were released.

Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc. announced the settlement, saying it resolved all litigation that had pitted the Tribune's former owner, the McCarthey family, against MediaNews and Management Planning Inc.

The parties are completing the paperwork to file soon in federal court in Utah, where the dispute had been set for trial.

The complex case began when the McCarthey family and other shareholders sold the newspaper in 1997 to cable television giant TCI in a stock swap. The Tribune had made an early investment in TCI that ballooned over the years.

The family worked out an agreement to buy back the newspaper five years later but AT&T Corp. acquired TCI in 1999 and sold the Tribune to MediaNews two years later for $200 million.

MediaNews then offered it back to the McCartheys for $355.5 million but they refused to pay that amount.

The family filed a lawsuit claiming MediaNews and its Salt Lake City joint operating partner, the Deseret Morning News, interfered with the family's contract rights to repurchase the newspaper because the Morning News used its rights under the joint operating agreement to veto that sale.

In addition, the McCarthey family wanted to overturn a key appraisal from Management Planning Inc. of New Jersey that established $355.5 million as the price they would have to pay for the newspaper.

Under terms of the settlement, pending lawsuits over the Tribune's ownership will be dismissed and Tribune Publishing will receive an undisclosed payment from a settlement fund that will be established by some defendants.

Management Planning will receive a payment from Kearns-Tribune, a wholly owned subsidiary of MediaNews and all other legal claims were terminated, MediaNews said.

Lawyers for the McCartheys recently disclosed they were dropping an effort to recover the Tribune but they planned to ask for a few Tribune assets and rights to the Tribune name for a new paper they may launch.

Philip McCarthey is a great-grandson of Sen. Thomas Kearns, a millionaire silver miner who bought the Tribune in 1901. McCarthey was chairman of a management group that controlled the Tribune until July 2002, when it was forced to give way to MediaNews.

W. Dean Singleton, who became chairman of The Associated Press board of directors in May, founded privately owned MediaNews in 1983. It ranks as the fourth-largest newspaper company in the United States. Together with affiliated companies, MediaNews publishes 57 daily newspapers, including The Denver Post and The Detroit News, and about 120 non-daily publications in 13 states. It also owns a CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska, and four radio stations in Texas.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here