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Manchester’s Reported Plan To Buy OC Register Called Shrewd Move

U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester says he's in negotiations to buy the Orange County Register.

Media Analysts believe it would add value to the U-T San Diego and save money by operating in neighboring markets.

U-T San Diego has already defied conventional wisdom in the languishing newspaper industry. Under former owners Platinum Equity, the paper's circulation increased last fall and it modernized its production technology.

Manchester bought the paper for a reported $110 million, a price considered hefty by today's standards. If Manchester buys the Orange County Register, he could boost readership through additional sports coverage of baseball, basketball and hockey franchises in Orange County and Los Angeles.

Gabriel Kahn, co-director of the Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship program at USC, said U-T San Diego would be more valuable if combined with another local, regional paper like the Orange County Register.

"It makes sense because he already owns the major newspaper just south of the Orange County Register's major distribution area," Kahn said. "If you can get two contiguous markets, there's a lot of cost savings that can emerge."

But there are hurdles. Kahn said newspapers remain in a slump. Though more people are consuming news than ever, they are getting it from a broader array of sources.

"The challenge is how do you present a compelling package of news and information to people delivered in any form, whether it's your traditional dead tree product, over the Internet or over your mobile phone," Kahn said.

He said newspapers are still in a good position to do that because of their long-standing news gathering tradition. But they're also weighed down by the high cost of printing presses and doorstep delivery. Kahn does not think the a potential merger between the Register and UT-San Diego poses too much of a threat to the Los Angeles Times which remains a strong particularly in entertainment and sports coverage despite bankruptcy proceedings.

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