SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Latest on the auction of the Orange County Register (all times local):
The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit in an attempt to block Tribune Publishing’s purchase of the Orange County Register and Press-Enterprise newspapers in Southern California.
The department says it sued Thursday because the sale would give Tribune a monopoly over newspaper sales in two California counties and allow it to increase subscription prices and advertising rates.
The Press-Enterprise is based in Riverside County.
Earlier Thursday, Tribune announced it had placed the winning $56 million bid for bankrupt Freedom Communications’ newspapers. Tribune already operates the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune.
A federal bankruptcy court judge still must approve the sale and has scheduled a hearing for Monday.
Tribune Publishing Co. says it was the successful bidder at an auction to buy the Southern California suburban newspapers owned by Freedom Communications.
The company says it agreed to pay $56 million in cash for the business of Freedom, the Orange County Register and Press-Enterprise at an auction on Wednesday.
Digital First Media and Tribune Publishing both sought to buy the newspapers to extend their reach in Southern California.
Freedom managers and local investors also sought to buy the papers after Freedom declared bankruptcy in November.
A judge still must approve the sale and has scheduled a hearing in federal bankruptcy court for Monday.