Times and Register Anti-Trust or Bust Lust in the Dust

As merger mania sweeps through the ownership suites of the L.A. Times and Orange County Register, some may find it odd that the fierce competitors:

1) are even considering joining forces, and

B) would even be allowed to merge

After all, it was not that long ago that those U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust meanies slapped the wrists of the former New Times and previous Village Voice Media for doing much the same thing, albeit on a much less impactful, Southern California alternative newsweekly level.

(That was before, of course, NT and VVM merged to become the Village Voice Media Man on Foursome Botoxery Futon Outlet Worldwide Domination Lifeforce--or MGD Lite for short.)

How is this for proposed total bottom chunk of state market penetration: The Times' Tribune Co. overlords are also entertaining notions of buying Copley Press, which owns the San Diego Union-Tribune, so they can consolidate operations down there, too?

Apparently, an anti-trust bust won't be in the rack cards with any of this, as one banker told the Financial Times of London: “At this point, I think newspapers are in such bad shape that people would allow them to come together.”

Damn you, Clinton economy, for your good times preventing the kind of market conditions that would have allowed VVM and the late New Times to avoid anti-trust actions that apparently don't apply to publications with tens of thousands of more readers (for now) doing much the same thing on a much, much, much larger scale.

Incidentally, a Guardian of UK blogger calls the Times-Reg merger “inevitable.” Which raises an interesting question: Why the fuck do the Brits care so much about a Times-Reg merger?

When it comes to these two lovebirds, they actually have a lot in common: free-falling circulation (here and here), piss-poor ad sales and staff reductions, including the latest round of layoffs in the LAT newsroom.


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