Monday, April 9, 2007

Will FCC cry, 'Break up the Tribune!'?

Sportswriters and baseball fans may recall the old "Break up the Yankees!" cry every time the Bronx Bombers seem to dominate Major League Baseball. Now a similar chorus may arise about Chicago -- and the Cubs are only peripherally involved.

The Federal Communications Commission must approve Sam Zell's 8.2 billion purchase of the Tribune (including the Cubs and broadcast properties such as WGN-TV 9 and WGN-AM 720), and it's anything but an automatic OK.

"They've got pretty difficult obstacles to surmount," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and chief executive of Media Access Project, a non-profit telecommunications law firm that said it will fight the Tribune-Zell deal because it is not in the public interest, in a piece in the Trib itself. "This is going to be very treacherous and complicated."

The FCC could force Zell to relinquish ownership of media in the same market.

Meanwhile, however, Zell seems to be considering "flipping" the Tribune's Los Angeles Times anyway.

Check out these two stories:,0,1569133.story?coll=chi-business-hed