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Possible 2nd Bidder For Philadelphia Newspapers, And Some Intrigue, Surfaces

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A second group of local investors say they’d like to buy the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, but their overtures are being greeted coldly by the papers’ current owners.

Calling itself Philly Hometown Media, the group is led by real estate developer Bart Blatstein, who recently bought the Inquirer and Daily News building from the hedge funds and banks that currently own the papers and the philly.com web site (see related story).

Blatstein has four partners, including soft drink bottler Harold Honickman.

Honickman has a charitable foundation, but he says he’d view the papers as strictly a business investment and the numbers would have to work for the group to make a bid.

He said, though, that he does consider local ownership a plus.

“I enjoy the Inquirer, enjoy reading it every morning,” he said. “I think Philadelphia has to have a newspaper, and I would love to see a Philadelphian stay in Philadelphia and be owned by Philadelphians.”

Another group of local owners, led by former governor Ed Rendell, is also interested (see related story).

There are also said to be two other potential bidders from outside the area.

A story about the potential bid by Blatstein appeared briefly on the Daily News blog “Clout” but was taken down and replaced by a management statement saying the newspaper company is not currently talking to Blatstein.

Asked why the statement replaced the post, spokesman Mark Block says it was “editorial discretion.”

“We have the discretion to do what we like on philly.com.”

Sources say that the papers have been ordered not to report stories about Blatstein’s group, allegedly because the publisher prefers the Rendell-led group, which has stated it would keep the current management of the papers in place.

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