Even though Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring after twenty terms in office, he is still exerting his influence by pressuring the Tribune Co. not to spin off the Los Angeles Times into a separate company.
According to Southern California Public Radio KPCC 89.3, Waxman wrote in a letter to the Tribune Co. that he had consulted media and university experts. Waxman said that they were concerned that the spin-off would result in the Times taking on exorbitant debt. As a result, it would negatively impact the paper’s ability to “provide strong and independent local coverage.”
According to KPCC, Waxman said, “I hope you will review the assessment the distinguished experts provided to me and then revise the terms of the transaction.”
Waxman worries that as an independent company, the Times may not be able to hold its own in the marketplace, and his concerns may be borne out by the fact that more and more newspapers are suffering from declining revenues. “When the newspapers become a separate company, they need the financial and other resources necessary to compete effectively in the Internet age.”
The publisher of the Times, Eddy Hartenstein, disagrees with Waxman and the university elite. He argues: “The assertions of the academics consulted by the Congressman provide no new insight and in many cases are simply wrong.”
Hartenstein, who is pegged to become the chairman of the board of the spin-off, asserted that Waxman is not aware of the “structure of a spin-off,” and explains that it is “based on sound financial principles and a deep commitment to providing Tribune’s newspapers with a strong, long-term future.”
In recent years, left-wing activists have protested potential interest in the Times by Koch Industries.