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Secret Bidding Under Way For Sale of Philadelphia’s Daily Newspapers

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The current owners of Philadelphia’s two major daily newspapers are mulling over bids from at least two groups that would like to buy the papers.

The sale is being conducted with the kind of secrecy normally reserved for a national security event.

The two hedge funds that own the majority of shares in Philadelphia Media Network are refusing to comment.

Even former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who earlier announced that he had assembled a group of bidders, has adopted an official “no comment” policy — though he occasionally can’t resist.

That’s how we know bids (plural) went in last week: Rendell let it slip to a blogger.

But how many bids and who else is bidding is a secret.

Temple University journalism professor Chris Harper says this is an odd way for a newspaper company to do business.

“A news organization is protected by the First Amendment and clearly gets a lot of advantages as a result of those protections, so one would expect that a news organization should be more forthcoming and less secretive,” he told KYW Newsradio today.

Also unknown is why two local groups — developer Bart Blatstein and philanthropist Ray Perelman — were not even allowed to submit a bid.

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