Does Los Angeles have another daily newspaper in its future?
A company controlled by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz registered the domain name LosAngelesExaminer.com last week -- a year and a half after trademarking "Los Angeles Examiner" as a possible name for a newspaper.
But a spokesman for Anschutz said the moves didn't signal an imminent resurrection of a name that has a long history in the annals of L.A. journalism.
"There's nothing I know of that's going to happen anytime soon in Los Angeles," Jim Monaghan said. "Anyone expecting a Los Angeles Examiner anytime soon, they're going to be disappointed."
Monaghan said Anschutz companies had reserved 200 Web addresses associated with cities, in some cases snapping up more than one variant on the Examiner theme for the same city. Most of those sites were claimed in late 2004, shortly after Anschutz filed for trademark protection for names in more than 60 potential Examiner cities.
Anschutz is simply warehousing the newspaper and website names in case he decides to expand his budding journalism business, Monaghan said. Anschutz bought the San Francisco Examiner tabloid in early 2004, launched the Washington Examiner the following year and plans to start distributing the Baltimore Examiner next month.
If Anschutz does decide to launch a new Los Angeles Examiner -- joining the Los Angeles Times, the San Fernando Valley-based Daily News and a slew of smaller daily papers in the area -- it would revive a brand with a long history.
William Randolph Hearst founded the original L.A. Examiner, which later merged with a sister paper to form the L.A. Herald Examiner. That paper folded in 1989. In 2003, former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan tried to start a weekly paper under the Examiner banner, but gave up his claim to the trademark the next year.
Whatever his plans for the name, Anschutz already has business ties to Los Angeles. His companies own Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and the biggest U.S. collection of movie theaters.
Anschutz firms also produce movies and promote concerts, tying him even closer to the L.A. landscape.
The dot-com registration, first reported by a Bay Area blog, "suggests that the next market" for Anschutz's newspaper ambitions may be Los Angeles, said industry analyst John Morton. However, Morton said L.A. would be a tough market, in part because of poor advertising conditions.
In other cities where Anschutz operates, the papers are delivered free in high-income neighborhoods. They have far less original content than traditional metro papers and are aimed at people who want more than what they get on television news, but less than they would get in a paper such as The Times, Morton said.
In the past, the high-income households pursued by advertisers and Anschutz have been more likely to subscribe to major papers, making the Examiner's quest a tricky one.
But that may no longer be the case, Morton said, noting that he has worked with lawyers and accountants who no longer subscribe to a daily paper.
Even though Morton believes the Examiner chain is losing money, Anschutz "thinks there's a business here -- and he may be right."