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Charles Koch has expressed interest in buying newspapers and elaborated on editorial pages as a place for a “marketplace of ideas.”
The billionaire industrialist, along with his brother, David, frequently has been reported to be a potential buyer of Tribune Co.’s stable of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.
“If we got in the media, it would need to stand on its own and have good economics, create real value and create value for the marketplace, or we wouldn’t be interested,” Koch told the Journal. “We wouldn’t be interested in putting huge amounts of money in it on the bet that we can have a miraculous turnaround [of newspapers]. We see it continuing to decline, the print media.”
The notion of a Koch brothers acquisition of Tribune Co. newspapers — which include the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Chicago Tribune — has been met with a wave of grassroots protests by progressive organizers. Critics of the Koch brothers are concerned about papers being used to promote a right-leaning political perspective.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Charles Koch described editorial pages as a place that can feature contrasting political ideas.
He described a newspaper editorial page as “a marketplace of ideas where all sorts of approaches to public policy issues are vetted and contrasted and there could be ongoing debate.”
The Tribune Co. exited bankruptcy Dec. 31. Since that time, there have been several others who have been reported to be interested in acquiring some or all of the papers.
Those who have publicly expressed interest in acquiring the L.A. Times have included News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, OC Register owner Aaron Kushner, U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester and billionaire Eli Broad, who is partnering with former L.A. deputy mayor Austin Beutner to make a bid.
Koch Industries previously has responded to reports of its interest in newspapers with a statement saying that it is “our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring.” THR has reached out to the company for additional comment.
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