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News Corp: LA Times, Chicago Tribune Reports Are False

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In this handout photograph provided by News International, Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, pictured on February 25, 2012 in Broxbourne, England. (Picture Arthur Edwards/News International via Getty Images)
In this handout photograph provided by News International, Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, pictured on February 25, 2012 in Broxbourne, England. (Picture Arthur Edwards/News International via Getty Images)



Oct 20 (Reuters) - News Corp said on Saturday reports that it is in discussions with Tribune Co or the Los Angeles Times are "wholly inaccurate."

The Los Angeles Times newspaper reported on Friday that News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch is looking to buy the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, two of the country's largest newspapers, when owner Tribune Co emerges from bankruptcy.

The paper also reported that News Corp executives are in the early stages of talks with Tribune Co's debtholders including Oaktree Capital, with an eye toward securing footholds across the three top U.S. markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune and Oaktree have declined to comment.

News Corp declined to comment on whether there had been talks with debtholders, and would not say if it was asking the LA Times for a retraction.

Nancy Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the LA Times, said on Saturday the paper is standing by the report.

News Corp is preparing to split into two companies next year, one housing its entertainment assets including 20th Century Fox studios and its cable networks and the other housing its publishing assets such as the Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch has long eyed the LA Times, the paper reported. But any attempt by the media mogul to go after the two newspapers would have to get approval from regulators.

In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Murdoch in an interview played down his interest in the LA Times, saying it would have to be looked at "closely," citing regulatory restrictions, among other things.

Murdoch controls the Wall Street Journal - the largest-circulation U.S. newspaper - and the New York Post. Federal Communications Commission rules prevent ownership of a newspaper and TV station in the same market. News Corp now owns two Fox stations in LA, and two in Chicago.

The commission however has considered eliminating the rule and has granted exceptions in the past, including a waiver that allowed the Tribune to operate both KTLA-TV Channel 5 and the Los Angeles Times.