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Attorney General William Tong

01/28/2021

Attorney General Tong Sends Letter to Alden Global Capital Requesting Information on Potential Purchase of Tribune Publishing

(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong sent a letter to Alden Global Capital requesting information about the hedge fund’s potential acquisition of Tribune Publishing, the company that owns Connecticut’s largest news organization, The Hartford Courant.

“I am deeply troubled by the reports that Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund with a history of decimating newspapers across the country, may be poised to take complete control of The Hartford Courant,” Attorney General Tong said. “The Courant is a crucial part of Connecticut’s media landscape and has already withstood countless devastating cuts to its staff and operations since Alden acquired a third of Tribune Publishing in 2019. The Courant deserves an owner who will invest in the critical journalism they produce instead of making draconian cuts to line the company’s own pockets.”

Attorney General Tong sent the letter in response to news that Alden Global Capital intends to buy Tribune Publishing. Alden already owns 32 percent of Tribune Publishing and more than half of Digital First Media, which operates 50 newspapers across the U.S. including The Denver Post, the Boston Herald, and the Mercury News of San Jose.

“I am concerned that the proposed acquisition may negatively impact the cost and quality of services provided by Tribune companies as well as the diversity of news reporting and editorial content in Connecticut,” Attorney General Tong wrote in the letter. “I am mindful that, since Alden took a stake in Tribune, we have seen dramatic negative changes at the Courant – including shuttering the newsroom at the nation’s oldest continuously published paper. Connecticut needs a robust and healthy local media ecology. Diversely-owned and well-resourced local media matters for Connecticut’s people, its economy, and its government. Our residents depend on thoughtful and well-reported coverage to hold institutions and government accountable.”

In order to assess the potential competitive ramifications of the transaction, Attorney General Tong requested that Alden Global Capital provide information about the proposed sale, including Alden’s plans for investing in and strengthening Tribune’s news assets, including the Courant, and any plans that Alden has for selling or closing any relevant assets.

Attorney General Tong also asked Alden to:

1) Identify the Connecticut media properties in which Tribune Publishing has an ownership interest, including print, electronic, and broadcast;
2) Identify any media properties in which Alden Global Capital and MediaNewsGroup have an ownership interest that serve Connecticut communities, including print, electronic, and broadcast properties;
3) Identify any printing presses owned and operated by Tribune Publishing, Alden Global Capital, or MediaNewsGroup that serve communities in Connecticut;
4) Provide the print subscriber circulation numbers and advertising revenue in Connecticut separately for the Tribune Publishing, Alden Global Capital, and MediaNewsGroup entities; and
5) Identify any broadcast licenses that Tribune Publishing, Alden Global Capital, or MediaNewsGroup hold that serve communities in Connecticut

Assistant Attorney General Jeremy Pearlman, head of the Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department, Assistant Attorney Rachel Davis and Special Counsel for Civil Rights Joshua Perry assisted the Attorney General with this matter.

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