U-T San Diego owner to buy North County Times

Associated Press Modified: September 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm •  Published: September 11, 2012

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The owner of San Diego's dominant newspaper said Tuesday he agreed to buy the North County Times for $12 million from Lee Enterprises Inc., consolidating his grip on media holdings in the nation's 17th largest metropolitan area.

Doug Manchester, owner of U-T San Diego, said he expected to complete the purchase next month, giving him ownership of the U-T's main competitor in northern suburbs.

Manchester, one of San Diego's most prominent real estate developers and political heavyweights, bought the U-T less than a year ago and quickly planted his conservative views on its editorial pages that recently called President Barack Obama the worst president in American history.

He also invested heavily in television, building a studio at the newspaper's headquarters.

Manchester, who likes to be called "Papa Doug," gave no indication of immediate changes at the North County Times and The Californian, a newspaper serving Temecula in southwest Riverside County that is included in the purchase. He told radio station KPBS that he was undecided whether the Times will remain a stand-alone newspaper, have its own editorial board or adjust staffing.

Since buying the U-T for about $110 million last year and changing the masthead to read "The World's Greatest Country & America's Finest City," Manchester has used the newspaper to promote his pro-military and pro-business views.

He supports downtown development, including construction of stadium for the NFL Chargers, and has proposed a makeover for the city's downtown waterfront, calling it the newspaper's top priority in a front-page editorial.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, said sale proceeds would be used to reduce debt.

Lee said the North County Times had revenue of $27.6 million in the fiscal year ending Aug. 26. Peter York, the Times' publisher, said the newspaper is profitable but declined to provide a figure.

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