May 24, 2012 / 4:13 PM / in 6 years

Warren Buffett eyes more newspapers: report

(Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) is eyeing more newspapers, according to a memo posted on Jim Romenesko's media website.

Warren Buffett tours the trade show floor during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, May 5, 2012. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom

The Oracle of Omaha wrote in a memo to Berkshire Hathaway’s publishers and editors that “Berkshire will probably purchase more papers in the next few years,” according to the website.

Buffett’s company announced on May 17 that it would buy the majority of Media General Inc’s MEG.N papers for $142 million in cash and that it would form a new subsidiary called BH Media Group.

In the memo, Buffett said, “we will favor towns and cities with a strong sense of community, comparable to the 26 in which we will soon operate.”

Buffett reassured editors and publishers he would not push any political agenda: “I have some strong political views, but Berkshire owns the paper — I don’t. And Berkshire will always be non-political.”

A call to a Berkshire Hathaway representative was not immediately returned.

Buffett’s love of newspapers is well-known though he is choosy about where he sends his affections. He favors small and medium-sized newspapers in thriving towns rather than big city metros.

Indeed, Berkshire snapped up 63 daily and weekly newspapers of Media General but left behind the troubled Tampa Tribune and its related properties.

“I believe newspapers that intensively cover their communities will have a good future,” he wrote in the memo.

Berkshire already owns the Buffalo News, the Omaha World-Herald Co and a stake in the Washington Post Co WPO.N. The conglomerate also reportedly holds a small stake in the recently reorganized newspaper chain Lee Enterprises.

Buffett is making a bet on an industry that is dogged by plummeting advertising revenue and readers who are getting their news in digital formats instead of paper and ink.

His appetite for more newspapers comes amid reports that the Newhouse family’s Advance Publications plans on cutting the frequency of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and is forming a separate company for its Louisiana papers.

The Tribune Co is also expected to emerge from bankruptcy soon and could sell off its newspapers, according to a report published earlier this week.

Reporting By Jennifer Saba; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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