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The FT's funky Globe-Herald rumor

Might Boston be in for a colossal media makeover? So suggests the Financial Times:

The New York Times is aggressively courting buyers for its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team and potentially the Boston Globe newspaper in a transaction that could attract bids worth $200m-$225m, according to a person familiar with the matter....

The latest overtures have piqued the interest of a group of wealthy Boston business leaders, who have also discussed other broader scenarios to improve the state of local media. Publishers' moves to cut costs drastically are considered to be hurting the quality of local coverage.

One scenario under consideration includes buying the whole or part of News Corp's Ottaway newspaper chain and consolidating and shutting down the Boston Globe's rival, the Boston Herald.

Patrick Purcell, owner and publisher of the Boston Herald and a former News Corp executive, was recently tapped by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to run the company's Ottaway chain. News Corp pulled the Ottaway chain, comprised of eight daily newspapers and 15 weeklies, off the market after failing to sell the papers before a June 30 deadline.

One News Corp source said they were not currently involved in discussions. Mr Purcell was not immediately reachable. A New York Times spokeswoman had no comment [emph. added].

A few thoughts immediately spring to mind: 1) Wild! 2) Who are the "wealthy Boston business leaders" in question? (The FT mentions 2006's failed Jack Welch/Jack Connors bid for the Globe, but doesn't explicitly say that Welch and Connors still want to buy the paper.) 3) Are we supposed to assume that these prospective new owners would purchase Ottaway and the Herald and then close the latter after first purchasing the Globe? Seems so, but the language is ambiguous. 4) Might Purcell's strange ascension to the Ottaway helm have been made in anticipation of such a deal? 5) Do we really want a "group of wealthy Boston business leaders" running the Globe? Because that might compromise the paper's watchdog function. And finally: 6) How seriously should we take any of this stuff?

Also, the FT follows the WSJ in citing an oddly low Barclays valuation of the Globe, but puts the figure at $27-54 million rather than $20 million. I'm still skeptical, especially because the FT (again using ambiguous language) refers to the Times Co.'s "stake" in the Globe. Of course, the Times Co. owns the whole paper, not part of it.

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