East Bay Times
Front page of the East Bay Times
|Owner(s)||Bay Area News Group (Digital First Media)|
|Ceased publication||April 4, 2016|
|Headquarters||2640 Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek, California 94598 U.S.|
The East Bay Times is a daily broadsheet newspaper based in Walnut Creek, California, United States owned by the Bay Area News Group (BANG), as subsidiary of Digital First Media, that serves Contra Costa and Alameda counties, in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was founded as the Contra Costa Times, and took its current name in 2016 when it was merged with other sister papers in the East Bay region.
The original Contra Costa Times was founded by Dean Lesher in 1947, and served central Contra Costa County, especially Walnut Creek. However, Lesher began expanding by purchasing weekly newspapers in neighboring communities, as well as two eastern Contra Costa daily papers, the Antioch Ledger and the Pittsburg Post-Dispatch. Originally the weekly newspapers were free for shoppers, but Lesher gradually converted the papers to "controlled circulation" in 1962, an aggressive and expensive new strategy that called for free delivery of a copy to every household while asking readers to voluntarily buy subscriptions. Ultimately, the weeklies were converted into zoned daily editions called the West County Times, serving Richmond, El Cerrito, and western Contra Costa County; the San Ramon Valley Times, serving the suburbs of the San Ramon Valley south of Walnut Creek; and the Valley Times serving Livermore and the suburbs of eastern Alameda County. The two East Contra Costa dailies were merged into a single edition, the Ledger-Dispatch, which gradually faded away, first being reduced to a thrice-weekly insert in the Contra Costa Times, then being replaced outright by the East County Times.
Lesher died May 13, 1993. On August 29, 1995, his widow Margaret sold the privately held company to the Knight Ridder newspaper chain for $360 million. Knight Ridder was later purchased by the Sacramento-based McClatchy Company in June 2006 in a deal valued at $4.5 billion. The deal was contingent on McClatchy selling off 12 of the 32 newspapers it had just purchased, including the Contra Costa Times.
On April 26, 2006, it was announced that MediaNews Group (now Digital First Media), then headed by William Dean Singleton, would purchase four of the "orphan 12", including the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News, for $1 billion. Although that transaction was completed on August 2, 2006, a lawsuit claiming antitrust violations by MediaNews and the Hearst Corporation had also been filed in July 2006. The suit, which sought to undo the purchase of the four newspapers, was scheduled to go to trial on April 30, 2007. While extending until that date a preliminary injunction preventing collaboration of local distribution and national advertising sales by the two media conglomerates, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on December 19, 2006, expressed doubt over the legality of the purchase. On April 25, 2007, days before the trial was scheduled to begin, the parties reached a settlement in which MediaNews Group preserved its acquisitions.
As part of a reorganization announced in 2011, the Contra Costa Times, San Ramon Valley Times, East County Times, Tri-Valley Herald and San Joaquin Herald were scheduled to be merged. However, BANG announced on October 27, 2011, that it would retain several of the mastheads and only combine the Tri-Valley Herald and San Joaquin Herald along with The Valley Times under a new Tri-Valley Times masthead.
On April 5, 2016, BANG merged the Contra Costa Times with the company's other newspapers in the East Bay, including the Oakland Tribune, which it had owned since 1992, renaming the combined paper the East Bay Times.
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