SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A federal bankruptcy judge on Monday approved Digital First Media's purchase of the Orange County Register and another Southern California newspaper.
Digitial First Media, which owns the Los Angeles Daily News and eight other daily papers in the greater Los Angeles area, will pay $52 million for the Register and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, company attorney Kathryn Coleman said.
Freedom Communications decided over the weekend to sell the newspapers to Digital First after a judge blocked a higher bid by the owner of the Los Angeles Times.
Tribune Publishing Co. last week won a bankruptcy auction for the newspapers with a bid of $56 million. But hours later, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit saying that if the deal went through, Tribune would have a virtual monopoly by owning the four largest daily newspapers in Southern California.
Tribune also owns The San Diego Union-Tribune, which it purchased last year. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Friday halting the deal.
Digital First Media's purchase was approved before temporary private financing that is keeping the two newspapers afloat dries up on March 31.
Freedom filed for bankruptcy protection in November. It followed a series of layoffs and buyouts after an aggressive expansion of print journalism that included starting daily papers in Los Angeles and Long Beach and buying the Press-Enterprise for $27 million. Both new papers went under.
The Associated Press is among the creditors in Freedom's bankruptcy proceedings.