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Reports that Murdoch-led News Corp is in talks to buy LA Times are 'wholly inaccurate'

Tony Pierce / KPCC

The entryway to the Globe entrance of the Los Angeles Times on First Street in downtown L.A.

After a week of speculation and reports from three major news outlets whose anonymous sources said Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation are in talks with the Los Angeles Times to buy the paper, comes a message from the Australian news giant: it's not true, mate.

"Reports that News Corporation is in discussions with Tribune or the LA Times are wholly inaccurate" a News Corp spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter on Saturday.

The denial comes after articles in both the L.A. Times and the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal this week reported that the world's largest newspaper company was interested in both the Times and the Chicago Tribune.

"Tribune Co.'s debt holders — two investment firms and a bank — will become majority owners of the company after it exits bankruptcy, which could happen by year's end. News Corp. executives have had preliminary talks with these debt holders about acquiring the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, according to two ranking News Corp. executives and others familiar with the situation," the Times reported late Friday.

Not to be outdone, Reuters had an anonymous source of their own on Friday with slightly different rumors that sent shivers through those critical of the controversial media company who was recently forced to break into two after a phone-hacking scandal.

"News Corp executives - including Murdoch's son James - flew into Los Angeles twice this month to take a preliminary look at the storied daily's books, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were not publicized," Reuters wrote yesterday.

If Murdoch did buy the Times, the deal would have to be approved by the FCC which has rules outlawing companies from owning a television station and a newspaper in the same market. The FCC, however, has made exceptions to that rule, including Tribune's ownership of KTLA and the Times.

Despite News Corp's statement, the Times has not retracted their story.

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