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Congressman Henry Waxman requests Tribune documents

The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

A Southern California Congressman is requesting documents from the parent company of the Los Angeles Times, alleging it may not be operating in the paper's best interest.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has already scheduled a meeting with Tribune Co. officials on Jan. 15 to discuss his concerns about the company's plan to spin-off its daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, into a separate business called Tribune Publishing. Now, Waxman wants Tribune to give him documents that discuss the future viability of the Times and other Tribune newspapers before that meeting.

"It appears that you are putting onerous conditions on the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers that could jeopardize their survival as a separate entity," Waxman wrote in a letter to Tribune's CEO Peter Liguori. "At a minimum, you appear to be putting the profits of the Tribune Company ahead of the interests of the public in viable local newspapers."

Waxman was concerned that Tribune would not own the buildings in which the newspapers and their staffs currently operate. Instead, it would need to pay rent for those buildings. Waxman also was noted that Tribune Publishing would pay a cash dividend to Tribune Co. through debt financing. 

Waxman is requesting documents from Tribune that discuss: the cash dividend the papers would owe to Tribune; analysis of the future viability of the L.A. Times and other Tribune papers; the requirement for the newspapers to pay rent for their buildings; the capital that Tribune would give to the separate business that would run the papers; Tribune's obligations to newspaper employee pensions; Tribune's ownership in CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures.

KPCC asked Tribune Co. whether it will give Waxman the documents and the company responded with an e-mailed statement.

“We look forward to meeting with Congressman Waxman's office next week and to the opportunity to demonstrate that our plans for our publishing business are focused on it being a successful stand-alone company," Tribune Co. said in the statement.