Watchdogs: Post books are bogus


In a bid to win sympathy from the FCC, News Corp. is cooking the books to make the New York Post's finances appear worse than they actually are, say public advocates opposed to the company's acquisition of the Chris-Craft TV station group.

By demonstrating that the Post will go out of business if the FCC forces a sale, News Corp. hopes federal regulators will extend a waiver to rules banning same market newspaper/TV cross-ownership so the company can acquire a second New York City TV station. But the consumer groups say financial documents submitted to the FCC overstate the Post's financial troubles. For instance, they say, the liabilities generated by the construction of a new printing plant are listed on the Post's books, while the plant itself is carried as an asset on News Corp.'s books.

Also, the Post "opportunistically" timed a 50% cut in the newsstand price in order to increase short-term losses, they say.

The financial documents, submitted April 9 at the commission's request are not publicly available. News Corp. officials were reviewing the consumer groups' complaints yesterday and would not comment. - Bill McConnell