SANTA ANA, Calif. (TheBlaze/AP) – The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit in an attempt to block Tribune Publishing's purchase of the Orange County Register and Press-Enterprise newspapers in Southern California.
The department says it sued Thursday because the sale would give Tribune a monopoly over newspaper sales in two California counties and allow it to increase subscription prices and advertising rates.
Earlier Thursday, Tribune announced it had placed the winning $56 million bid for bankrupt Freedom Communications' newspapers.
The Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times together account for about 98 percent of newspaper sales in Orange County, California. The Los Angeles Times and the newspapers Tribune Publishing would own if the sale goes through would account for 81 percent of English-language newspapers in nearby Riverside County.
According to its website, Tribune Publishing already operates such major newspapers as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant and Baltimore Sun. It also operates the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as well as the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia.
A federal bankruptcy court judge still must approve the sale and has scheduled a hearing for Monday.