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Pew president contradicts NPR, says group won't bid for Inquirer



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PHILADELPHIA - Rebecca Rimel, president of the $4.5 billion Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, said Friday that the nonprofit group was not making a bid for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Contrary to a report on NPR, she said buying the newspaper was "not on our screen" for an acquisition. The Pew Charitable Trusts, she said, has had "no conversations with an investor group; we do not even know if there is an investor group."

Knight Ridder Inc., the owner of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and 30 other daily newspapers, is under pressure from big investors to sell itself because of weak-performing stock.

On Thursday, NPR broadcast a segment on the news show "All Things Considered'' identifying the Pew as a possible bidder for The Inquirer, saying Rimel "is now considering a run" at the newspaper.

David Folkenflik, the NPR reporter, said that he spoke with Rimel and that NPR would clarify her remarks in a broadcast.

Rimel said the Pew remained "deeply concerned" about "robust journalism in Philadelphia" and was watching the sale talks closely.

A new corporate owner of the Knight Ridder newspapers could cut staff or close the Daily News to improve profit margins in Philadelphia, analysts have said.

Knight Ridder, which has a market value of more than $4.2 billion, has received interest from newspaper publishers Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co., private-equity firms, a union representing some Knight Ridder employees and others.

Knight Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon IV has noted that the company is seeking buyers for the entire company and not individual newspapers.

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(c) 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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