Utah Attorney General's Office now investigating newspaper deal

- SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The Utah Attorney General's Office is now investigating a controversial business deal between Utah's two newspapers. The deal between the owners the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune is already under federal review, now state investigators want to look at it too.

A new investigation is looking into a recent business deal between the owners of the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune, and Attorney Karra Porter couldn't be happier.

"It means that the allegations that we're making are worth investigating," said Karra Porter, Attorney, Citizens for Two Voices.

Porter represents the group Citizens for Two Voices. She's learned the Utah Attorney General's Office is now reviewing the deal that she believes could kill the Salt Lake Tribune.

"It makes sense that the state Attorney General's Office wants to do an investigation and make sure that consumers of news in this state are being protected," said Porter.

As it stands now both papers share profits from advertising. Since the 1950's the Tribune received 58% because of its larger circulation, and the Deseret News got 42%. But under a new deal made last fall, the Deseret News now receives 70% and the Tribune only gets 30%. It essentially cuts the Tribune's revenue in half.

"We've tried to be strategic in our cuts so that the effect to the reader is minimal," said Terry Orme, Editor & Publisher, The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Editor and Publisher of the Tribune has said it’s been a painful blow, but the Editor of the Deseret News doesn't see it that way. In a recent article, Paul Edwards said, quote:

"The joint operating agreement as amended provides a huge financial benefit to our partners at the Salt Lake Tribune by giving them rent-free access to the plant and the presses," said Paul Edwards, Editor, Deseret News.

Is it or not? Now the Utah Attorney General's Office wants to know. Tribune advocates welcome the new investigation.

"This issue is important to the entire state," said Porter.

In an interesting side note, under the new deal the Tribune gets 30% of revenue from advertising.
According to Porter, she's looked over the deal and found if the Tribune actually dies its parent company, Digital First Media, will still get that 30%. So it seems under the structure of the deal, it doesn't matter if the Tribune survives or not.

Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @briancarlsontv

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