Rupert Murdoch will sell the Chicago Sun-Times rather than seek an exemption to federal cross-ownership rules in his purchase of a local television station, according to a memo circulated Thursday to newspaper employees.
In the memo, Sun-Times Publisher Robert Page said: “Yes, it’s true that Rupert Murdoch has decided to sell the Sun-Times.
“He has determined that he will comply with FCC regulations, which now prohibit cross-ownership of newspapers and TV stations in the same market.”
A secretary for Page said he would have no further comment.
Murdoch also is purchasing a television station in New York, where he owns the New York Post. The future ownership of the Post was not immediately known, although Murdoch spokesman Howard J. Rubenstein had said earlier Thursday that Murdoch had “no intention” of closing either paper.
“They are valuable assets and he is quite proud of their contribution to the two cities,” Rubenstein said. He declined comment at the time on whether a decision had been made to sell either publication.
On Monday, Murdoch and his business partner, Denver oilman Marvin Davis, agreed to buy Metromedia Inc.'s seven television stations for about $2 billion. They simultaneously agreed to sell one of them, WCBV-TV in Boston, to Hearst Corp. for $450 million.
The remaining six stations include WNEW-TV in New York and WFLD-TV in Chicago.
Rubenstein said that Murdoch was headed to the United States from London and was unavailable for comment on his plans.
However, he said that Murdoch planned to meet with his lawyers once he returned and “will consider making his announcement in a reasonable period of time.”
On Wednesday, Rubenstein had said that Murdoch did not intend to apply for a waiver of the government’s cross-ownership rules. Without a waiver, Federal Communications Commission officials have indicated that selling the newspapers is about the only alternative left.