CHICAGO (CBS) — The parent company of the Chicago Tribune has emerged as the likely buyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
In a deal that would provide needed financial backing for the struggling tabloid, tronc, which owns the Tribune, has sent the Sun-Times’ ownership a letter of intent to buy the company assets.
Under the proposed arrangement, the Sun-Times would continue to publish independently, but under single ownership.
“We look forward to operating the Sun-Times as a separate news unit, which means an independent Sun-Times will continue to produce the award-winning journalism readers are accustomed to seeing online and print daily. The Chicago Sun-Times is an integral part of the fabric of the city and this path is an opportunity for the Sun-Times to thrive,” Jim Kirk, Publisher and Editor In Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times, said in a statement.
Kirk said he couldn’t say whether the arrangement might result in job losses at the Sun-Times.
“Keeping a separate newsroom is the most important thing. We want to maintain that second voice in the city,” Kirk told reporters Monday afternoon.
tronc’s current majority owner is Michael Ferro, who previously owned the Sun-Times.
The deal would require approval by the U.S. Justice Department. As part of that process, the Sun-Times will take out a full-page ad in Tuesday’s edition seeking potential buyers, who would have 15 days to respond.
“The Antitrust Division is the agency responsible for investigating mergers involving newspapers,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “The Antitrust Division will closely monitor the sale process for the Chicago Sun-Times, including whether any other viable buyer expresses interest.”
If no buyer comes forth, the two companies would then work to complete the purchase.
Wrapports, which has owned the Sun-Times since 2012, agreed to enter into discussions with tronc after seeking alternative arrangements with other media companies both locally and outside of Chicago, according to a company news release.
Chicago has always been a two newspaper town. Media Analyst Tom Layson said he thinks there are a lot of concerns about media consolidation, especially in a market the size of Chicago.
He said more layoffs could be on the horizon. “It’s a corporate entity, and the people who make these things happen will talk about new inefficiencies and synergies to get these things done as they always do. But at the end of the day, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it doesn’t mean more bodies out on the street.”
Layson said he thinks this deal comes as no surprise.