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Tribune Co. Cutting Back Contract With the Associated Press

The Los Angeles Times is expected to keep its separate agreement with the news service

The Chicago Tribune and six other Tribune Company newspapers plan to drop their contracts with the Associated Press early next month, the wire service said.

AP.orgThe Los Angeles Times, under a separate contract, will maintain its AP membership.

But Tribune's stable of newspapers, which includes the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., and the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., had been cutting back on their use of the 166-year-old wire service for the last few years. Now, they will officially drop it, effective in early January.

"We're disappointed by this development but recognize this is a time of transition for these seven Tribune newspapers," Paul Colford, AP's director of media relations, said in a statement to Time Out Chicago. "We hope they'll return to AP as their circumstances change."

Two AP spokespeople did not immediately respond to calls from TheWrap requesting comment. Tribune did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The papers are reportedly being groomed for sale as Tribune prepares to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the end of the year. Several possible buyers, including News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, have expressed interest in either the entire Tribune chain or major parts of the newspaper group including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. 

The break from the long-standing relationship with the AP comes after nearly four years of Tribune slowly severing ties.

In 2008, then-CEO Sam Zell — the real estate mogul that sent the company spiraling into bankruptcy — began indicating his intentions to cut the reportedly $9 million AP deal.

Two years later, the company signed a multiyear agreement with Reuters America, a less expensive service from competitor Thomson Reuters.