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Attorney General Frowns on Tribune Convergence

Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal has put Tribune on notice that he believes the company’s plan to consolidate its Hartford newspaper and TV stations under one roof might have some legal issues.

According to the Hartford Courant(coincidentally, one of the Tribune media properties involved in the consolidation):

Blumenthal said that the consolidation plans raise “concerns about public access to diverse and competing sources of information.”

Although he acknowledged that Tribune operates under a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission that allows it to own both the newspaper and television stations, he said that the consolidation “goes well beyond what the FCC intended when it granted Tribune a two-year limited waiver.”

“These new business models or partnerships may be ‘the future,’ as one of your executives has characterized it,” Blumenthal wrote. “To advance this vision and goal, [the company] must expand access to information and competition, not produce media monopolies that shut out voices, perspectives and important news stories.”

Tribune has had a converged operation in South Florida for a year, and announced March 30 that it will take similar steps in Hartford with the Courant and WTIC/WTXX. TV boss Richard Graziano will head up the joint operation.

Tribune told Blumenthal the merger “was designed to improve our ability to serve our readers, viewers and advertisers and the communities in which they live and work.”