Judge Upholds Appraisal of The Salt Lake Tribune

Judge Upholds Appraisal of The Salt Lake Tribune

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal judge has upheld the $331 million appraisal for the Salt Lake Tribune, a price that former owners seeking to buy it back contended was inflated.

U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell ruled Monday that the appraisal cannot be set aside because there are no allegations of fraud, corruption or other wrongdoing.

The Tribune's longtime former owners, the McCarthey family, have been trying to buy back the newspaper they sold in 1997 to Telecommunications in a contract that included an option to buy back the paper. The family contended that when AT&T acquired TCI in 1999, it promised to honor the option, but AT&T instead sold it to MediaNews for $200 million.

"The ruling means the lawsuit is over," said MediaNews owner Dean Singleton. "It's been over for a long time, but this means it's legally over. They can continue to file silly actions and they can continue to come up with wild theories, but the bottom line is they chose not to exercise their option."

Family spokesman Phil McCarthey said they are reviewing the ruling before making any decision on whether to proceed.

"The wind needs to blow through for a few days so we can fully consider all of our options," he said.

MediaNews and Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Co. sought a third-party appraisal by Management Planning Inc., a New Jersey company, after their own appraisers differed widely on the newspaper's value. MPI put the newspaper's worth at $331 million.

Tribune Publishing officials contended the appraisal was faulty, and they cited MediaNews' purchased of the paper for $200 million.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that because a New Jersey company was hired for the job, New Jersey law must apply.

Campbell said that under New Jersey law, a third-party appraisal that both parties agreed to be "final, binding and conclusive" cannot be vacated unless there were evidence of fraud, corruption or similar wrongdoing.

Privately held MediaNews, headed by Dean Singleton, owns 40 other daily newspapers including The Denver Post.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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