Jerusalem Post Sold to TA Media Company and CanWest

Anat Balint The Associated Press
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Anat Balint The Associated Press

Hollinger International Inc. sold The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday to Tel Aviv-based media company Mirkaei Tikshoret Group Ltd. and CanWest Global Communications Group for $13.2 million.

CanWest, the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, will take a 50-percent interest together with Mirkaei Tikshoret, owned by Israeli businessman Eli Azur, in a soon to be created holding company that will control The Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report and subsidiary holdings.

Mirkaei Tikshoret has holdings that include TV and radio stations, as well as daily newspapers in Russian and weekly and monthly magazines in Hebrew and Russian.

Along with The Jerusalem Post, Hollinger also sold its land and printing press, located in the Romema neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The newspaper's sale came one day after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud lawsuit against Black and his former top deputy, David Radler, accusing them of misleading their board and misappropriating company funds.

They have denied any wrongdoing.

It remains to be seen how involved the Post's new owners will be with determining its editorial policy, and whether there will be any staff changes.

Sources close to Azur say he plans to give the newspaper professional freedom regarding its editorial policies, as he has done with other media outlets he controls, because he believes that is the key to success.

But the sources also expect the Asper family to be involved with the paper's editorial policy due to their familiarity with world Jewry, and that the buyers see the newspaper as a professional media outlet as well as the voice of the Jewish people in the Diaspora.

CanWest expressed interest in buying the Post several months ago, but its partnership with Azur, 45, came as something of a surprise on Monday.

Azur, it turned out, had been interested in buying the paper since it came up for sale, and both companies ended up working together.

The family of Izzy Asper, a Jewish family that controls CanWest, apparently wanted an Israeli partner to be close to the newspaper itself.

The purchase of the Post means that Azur, who began his career as a sportswriter for the now-defunct Hadashot newspaper, is increasing his profile in the world of media ownership.

In the last few years, the Post has been through many changes. After it was bought by Hollinger in 1989, it shifted its editorial focus to the right, mostly due to the influence of Radler and the publisher in Israel, Tom Rose.

Rose resigned in May in the wake of a difficult relationship with the newspaper's editorial staff. Bret Stephens recently left his position as the paper's editor in chief, and was replaced by David Horovitz from the Jerusalem Report.

In July, Hollinger sold The Daily Telegraph of London to the Barclay brothers for $1.2 billion, but still owns the Chicago Sun-Times and some community newspapers.

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