Cablevision is front-runner to buy newspaper

News Corp. is out of the running for Newsday, leaving Cablevision as the front-runner to buy the Long Island-based newspaper from Tribune Co.

News Corp. confirmed Saturday that it has withdrawn its $580 million bid for Newsday, just days after Rupert Murdoch expressed confidence the company’s bid would be accepted, in remarks made during News Corp.’s third quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday (Daily Variety, May 8).

Insiders said News Corp. had been asked to match the rival $650 million bid from Gotham-centric media conglom Cablevision. After poring over Newsday’s financials during the past few weeks, News Corp. execs decided the paper wasn’t worth what Tribune was asking.

During the past few months, News Corp. had aggressively pursued Newsday through direct contacts between Murdoch and Tribune’s CEO Sam Zell. News Corp. had hoped to combine some of Newsday’s operations with its New York Post to gain operating efficiencies for both papers. Last month, New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman stepped in with a bid that matched News Corp.’s $580 million, and Cablevision upped the ante by a significant amount with its bid made late last week.

Tribune is looking to sell Newsday in a bid to chip away at the $8 billion-plus in debt the company is shouldering following its takeover by Zell in December. Tribune could not immediately be reached for comment.

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