Bankrupt: Tribune down…

Under “mountains of debt and falling ad revenue” the Tribune Company, the American owner of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy protection in a U.S. federal court, reported the New York Times.

The company — along with its once-venerable newspapers — was bought last year by real estate investor Samuel Zell. The bankruptcy filing (reproduced here) notes the company has nearly $13 billion in debt and just $7.6 billion in assets; the Times noted that “most of that debt was taken on when Mr. Zell acquired the company — a deal he struck using mostly borrowed money.”

Noted the Times, “It is only the latest — and biggest — sign of duress for the newspaper industry yet. Several newspaper companies have struggled to cope with declining revenues and mounting debt woes … It is unclear what Tribune’s filing means for other newspaper publishers on the brink.”

Is it time for government intervention — for more checks and balances — on the level of risk and leveraging corporations can impose on critical information media?