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California and the West

Merger of Weeklies OKd

The Justice Department and FTC approve the pending combination of alternative papers New Times and Village Voice.

November 29, 2005|Jube Shiver Jr. | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a move uniting two major alternative newspaper chains, government antitrust regulators have cleared the pending merger of New Times Media with Village Voice Media Inc., the owner of LA Weekly, OC Weekly and New York's Village Voice.

The Federal Trade Commission posted a notice on its website that it had ended its investigation of the merger. New York-based Village Voice Media owns six weekly urban newspapers, while New Times of Phoenix owns 11. Justice Department officials also approved the deal.

The two chains have been given the green light to merge into a company that would boast a national circulation of 1.8 million and revenue of $180 million.

New Times Chief Executive Jim Larkin will run the combined companies and Executive Editor Michael Lacey will oversee its editorial operations.

Neither Larkin nor representatives of Village Voice Media could be reached for comment.

But Scott Spear, senior vice president of New Times, said in a statement that the time was right for a deal, noting that the two largest alternative weekly chains have discussed a possible merger for years.

The two companies may face a greater challenge merging their different cultures.

LA Weekly staffers have union representation while New Times employees do not.

Similarly, executives of Village Voice Media let the editors independently determine content, while New Times is more involved in overseeing its editorial operations.

New Times publishes the SF Weekly in San Francisco, and newspapers in Houston, Miami and Dallas. The chain closed the New Times Los Angeles in 2002.

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