The Los Angeles Times and its Times Community Newspapers, which include The Burbank Leader, are facing an uncertain future as 2012 wraps up. There’s a report out that the owners of the newspapers’ parent company, the Tribune Company, are quietly seeking advice from bankers about launching a fire sale after December 31, when the company is expected to emerge from bankruptcy.
The Tribune has been in bankruptcy for four years. Last month, the Tribune cleared the last major hurdle with the Federal Communication Commission.The Tribune is a huge media company, which owns a slew of major newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times, as well as 23 television stations including KTLA in Los Angeles and WPIX in New York.
The Bloomberg website is reporting Rupert Murdoch of News Corp is interested in some of the Tribune papers. In the post, investment banker Reed Phillips suggests the Tribune is likely to hold onto the larger newspapers “such as the ones in Los Angeles and Chicago” for a while, and sell the “smaller titles” first. This could mean the Burbank Leader will hit the auction block soon.
There are indications the management over at the L.A. Times is getting ready for some major changes with its Times Community Newspapers. A few weeks ago, the editor of the Burbank Leader and the Glendale News-Press, Dan Evans, announced some of the changes in a couple of columns. In a November 4 “Start the Presses”, Evans announced the Sunday edition of the Burbank Leader-News-Press got the axe and more emphasis would be placed on the digital news and less on print. Yet, he did not mention the Burbank Leader would no longer be available free in newsracks in B-town. For some reason, it always has been easier to find a Tolucan News than a Burbank Leader in the Media City. Now that situation is even worse.
I’m hearing from sources that the Leader will no longer be available on the streets. To get a print issue you have to buy a Los Angeles Times on Wednesdays and Saturdays when they print the Leader. In his November 28 “Start the Presses,” Evans tried to reassure readers: “We’re not closing any of the papers, we’re not on the brink of financial disaster, and we’re not changing our mission of hyperlocal coverage and service in any manner. We are moving the editorial staffs of all four papers — the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, La Cañada Valley Sun, and Pasadena Sun — to gleaming new digs within the Los Angeles Times building.” Evans is trying to put a good spin on this bad news. No matter, it still appears to be a death knell for the Leader or at least the set-up for a change of ownership for the paper.