| NEW YORK, March 10
NEW YORK, March 10 Eli Broad, a wealthy
philanthropist who once looked at buying the Los Angeles Times,
is still interested in a foray into the newspaper business, he
told a gathering in New York on Monday night.
"We can't afford to lose good newspaper journalism,
investigative reporting," the 75-year old retired business
maven said during a lecture on business in philanthropy at the
92nd Street Y in Manhattan.
The Times, which is owned by the Tribune Co, has like most
U.S. newspapers been struggling with a steep drop in
advertising revenue brought on by U.S. economic woes and a
migration of readers to the Internet.
Real estate magnate Sam Zell took Tribune private in an
$8.2 billion deal in 2007 that loaded up the company with
billions in debt. The company filed for bankruptcy protection
The L.A. Times is expected to eventually be put up for sale
Broad, jokingly, said: "I've regained my sanity since
then," referring to his earlier interest. But turning more
serious, he added: "I would like to see our foundation and
others join together to own the LA Times."
Even then, budget constraints would likely be at play. "I
am not sure it can be a national paper, or have the same
aspirations it once had," said Broad. He added that one way to
broaden reach could be tie-up with The Washington Post Co
Broad, who made his fortune by founding homebuilder KB Home
(KBH.N) then building SunAmerica, a provider of retirement
products, into a Fortune 500 company that he sold to AIG in
1999 for $18 billion, conceded newspapers, as a business
proposition, is weak.
"No one has figured out a good business model as of yet,"
Cutting out profit expectations could be one answer, he
added: "Newspapers ought to be owned by foundations, not look
for great financial returns."
Broad pointed to UK newspaper the Guardian as one example.
That paper is owned by the Scott Trust Limited, which was
created in 1936 to protect the legacy of longstanding editor
and former owner of the Guardian, C.P. Scott.
"If several foundations are involved there is likely to be
journalistic freedom," said Broad.
(Editing by Lincoln Feast)