News Corp. Denies Talks to Acquire LA Times

2012-29 REP Rupert Murdoch P

$224 million: That's what the Rupert Murdoch conglomerate spent during its fiscal year ending June 30, with the bulk of the money going toward legal fees, say insiders.

The Rupert Murdoch-led company slams reports as "wholly inaccurate."

News Corp. is shooting down reports that the company had early talks with debt holders about acquiring The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune from the Tribune Co.

"Reports that News Corporation is in discussions with Tribune or the LA Times are wholly inaccurate," a company spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that News Corp. execs have had "preliminary talks" with Tribune Co.'s debt holders on buying the papers as the Chicago-based publisher emerges from bankruptcy.

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corps., published an article stating that Rupert Murdoch was "expected to pursue acquisitions of distressed newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times" when the company spins off its publishing properties in early 2013.

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Following the phone-hacking scandal that resulted in the shuttering of News of the World, News Corp. announced in June that it was splitting into two companies -- with entertainment properties like Fox News, 20th Century Fox TV and 20th Century Fox film studio divided from newspapers like the Journal, the New York Post and the Times of London.

Murdoch gave an interview to the Journal that month, and in the article, he was said to have "long eyed titles such as the Los Angeles Times" but also "played down his interest in the paper, saying it would have to be looked at 'closely,' citing regulatory restrictions, among other things."

The Los Angeles Times noted a potential conflict with News Corp.'s ownership of two Fox stations in Los Angeles, citing FCC rules that "prevent owners from owning a newspaper and TV stations in the same market."