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Murdoch Says Outdated Laws Bar Him From Buying Tribune

Rupert Murdoch said antiquated media ownership laws are preventing him from getting his hands on Tribune Co., the owner of the Los Angeles Times.

“Sorry can’t buy Trib group or LA Times - cross-ownership laws from another age still in place,” Murdoch wrote in a tweet yesterday, referring to U.S. government restrictions that forbid ownership of TV stations and newspapers in the same market. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. owns two Los Angeles TV stations and would need a waiver to have a newspaper there.

Tribune, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, plans to spin off its newspapers from its TV business this year. The move mimics Murdoch’s own breakup of News Corp., which last year split into two entities -- a publishing group and entertainment unit -- as investors increased pressure to hive off print assets from faster-growing video businesses.

Murdoch has a government waiver that lets him own the New York Post, which targets readers in the New York metropolitan area, where he also owns the Fox broadcast station. His ownership of the Wall Street Journal doesn’t require special approval as it’s considered a national newspaper.

Tribune, based in Chicago, emerged from bankruptcy in 2012 after an $8.3 billion takeover by billionaire Sam Zell. The company owns more than 30 TV stations as well as classified advertising websites.

Last month, Murdoch’s proposal to acquire Time Warner Inc. for more than $75 billion was rebuffed by the New York-based media giant. Fox is willing to pay more than $85 a share for the owner of HBO, people familiar with the matter said this week.

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