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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Days Of ABQ Tribune Dwindle, But Owners Will Be Around A Long Time, Plus: Marty Back To Being Mayor, And: More On The Departing TV Anchors 

The Media Mavens report that no buyer for the ABQ Tribune has emerged and the afternoon newspaper is expected to publish its last edition at month's end. But a report in the NM Business Weekly says a deal to buy the Tribune is still in the works with ad agency D.W. Turner. We should know soon which school of speculation has it right. The Mavens are now awaiting word from the Justice Department approving the deal in which Trib owner E.W. Scripps terminates its Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with the ABQ Publishing Company, owners of the ABQ Journal. That is the agreement that permitted a newspaper monopoly in the Duke City in order to keep it a two paper town.

The Legal Beagles also chime in, reporting that while Scripps and the Journal are set to terminate their joint agreement which was set to run until 2022, there will still be a major business relationship between the two. Here's the money lines from Scripps' recent quarterly report.

Under the new agreement with the Journal Publishing Company, we will continue to own an approximate 40% residual interest in the Albuquerque Publishing Company, G.P. (the “Partnership”). The Partnership will direct and manage the operations of the continuing Journal newspaper and we will receive a share of the Partnership’s profits commensurate with our residual interest.

So even without the Trib publishing, Scripps will still get 40% of the Journal's profits. One of the Beagles says Justice will need to answer this question before approving the partnership. "The purpose of the JOA law was supposedly to keep newspapers in business not set up two to split a monopoly." Others say that by putting the Trib up for sale Scripps avoided any anti competitive concerns. The Justice Department has not been active in trying to prevent the dissolution of other JOA's.

The Journal wants out of the JOA because Trib circulation has crashed to 10,000 and advertisers are no longer buying the "combo rate" in which they would advertise in both papers. There are about 45 editorial employees at the Trib.

THE AFTERMATH

ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez reported to work as usual Monday, meeting with his division directors. It appears the Mayoral routine is in his future. His campaign manager, Mark Fleisher, said Monday the Mayor has no plans to run for the ABQ Congressional seat after starting and stopping campaigns for Governor and US Senate. He said some of the money left over from the Senate bid--he would not say how much there is--would be disbursed to other political candidates, and not saved for a US House run. Fleisher also told me he does not believe current law allows for the Mayor to spend leftover Senate money on the 2009 ABQ Mayoral race, Others said that city rules limit contributions to a mayoral campaign to 5% of the mayor's salary, or about $5,000, so that's the amount that Chavez could use from his leftover funds. Chavez would have to have term limits overturned by a court in order to run.

Not that the Mayor will have hundreds of thousands left over. After paying the bills, it does not appear he will. After the drama of the past several months, Chavez will be content to stay out of the electoral fray. He will have plenty to keep him busy including a balky city council and a decision to be made about those dreaded red light cameras.

SLOW DOWN, STEVE

Did Steve Pearce forget that he faces fellow Republican Heather Wilson for the GOP US Senate nomination? Take a look at Pearce's Monday missive on Tom Udall:

I believe that our state is going to have the distinct pleasure of two passionate, but fundamentally different, campaigns. Tom Udall and I disagree on what we believe will best serve our state and the nation and I look forward to many important debates with him.


Before Steve gets to debate Tom he will have to beat, and maybe debate, Heather for the GOP nomination. You remember her, don't you, Steve?

FOLLOW THE MONEY


An Alligator reports that one of Democratic Rep. Udall's first big fund-raisers for his US Senate bid will be at the Santa Fe home of well-known trial lawyer Steve Durkovich and his businesswoman wife Karen. She ran for an ABQ State Senate seat in '96, losing to Republican Skip Vernon. The couple give heavily to Dem candidates.

ANCHORS DROPPING

The ABQ Journal's Bruce Daniels is among those commenting on the upheaval in New Mexico TV anchordom as three Hispanic female anchors--one from each of the three major network affiliates--announce their departure.

"Maybe it's nothing, but doesn't it seem a little strange that within the space of a few weeks Albuquerque's three highest-profile Hispanic anchorwomen are likely to be replaced by non-Hispanics?" Asks Daniels.

Is this Bruce doing what he thinks we do best--being genetically conspiratorial? It is odd that the anchors are all leaving at once, but remember a couple of years ago when the national TV news anchors--Brokaw, Jennings and Rather, all went dark at about the same time? It can happen. As for replacing the Hispanic anchors with other Hispanics, that's a more far reaching question. Where are the Carla Aragon's of the future?

THE BOTTOM LINE

Join me for more politics this morning at 9 a.m. on 770 KKOB-AM radio with host Bob Clark.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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