Thursday, March 18, 2010

CT Attorney General Ignores Tribune's Newspaper/TV Merger

Excerped from an article By CHRIS POWELL , The Middletown Press

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. senator, is being mocked for remarking during a debate the other day that the many lawsuits brought by his office against businesses “actually create jobs because businesses welcome competition and a level playing field. What they really want is fair enforcement.”
People laughed because at so many press conferences in his 20 years as attorney general Blumenthal has made a career of posing as the avenging angel against supposed offenses that might better have been settled in small claims court or were quickly forgotten or were not really offenses at all.
Blumenthal is right about facilitating job creation by enforcing rules of fairness in the economy, like antitrust law.

Unfortunately at crucial moments the avenging angel sometimes prefers preening his feathers to engaging in legal combat.

A year ago the attorney general wrote to the CEO of Tribune Co., Sam Zell, expressing concern that the media conglomerate might merge its Connecticut newspaper, the Hartford Courant, the state’s largest, with its two Hartford-area television stations, diminishing their independence.

(The attorney general didn’t mention it, but for 10 years now Tribune has operated the TV stations on temporary waivers of federal rules against such cross-ownership.)

While the Courant had just cut its news staff by half and the TV studios were being moved into the Courant’s building, Zell replied implausibly that the Courant and the TV stations would keep making news decisions independently.

Having been assured that no combination was happening even as the TV stations’ moving vans rumbled past his office, the attorney general dropped the issue.

But at a journalism seminar in Hartford the other day the Courant’s editor was quoted as saying about the newspaper and the TV stations: “They are us. We are them.”

The attorney general is making no further inquiry. Level playing fields in the economy are nice but he has a Senate campaign to run.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

No comments: