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The Contra Costa Times is a daily newspaper based in Walnut Creek, Californiamarker, U.S.marker. The paper serves Contra Costamarker and eastern Alamedamarker counties, in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Areamarker. The Times also publishes four other editions under different titles (West County Times, East County Times, San Ramon Valley Times, and Valley Times) but essentially the same content, serving distinct communities within its circulation area. In 2007 the Contra Costa Times was merged with ANG Newspapers to form a new entity called Bay Area News Group-East Bay, which is in turn owned by MediaNews Group.


The original Contra Costa Times was founded by Dean Lesher in 1947, and served central Contra Costa, 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 originally free 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 Richmondmarker, El Cerrito, and western Contra Costa County), San Ramon Valley Times (serving the affluent suburbs of the San Ramon Valley south of Walnut Creek) and the Valley Times (serving Livermoremarker and the suburbs of eastern Alameda County), and 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.

The Times still produces 11 weekly community newspapers focusing on local news: Brentwood News (Brentwoodmarker, the town)), Walnut Creek Journal (Walnut Creekmarker), Concord Transcript (Concordmarker), Lamorinda Sun (Lafayettemarker, Moragamarker, and Orindamarker), Pleasant Hill/Martinez Record (Pleasant Hillmarker and Martinezmarker), West County Weekly, and the components of the old Hills Newspapers chain (The Montclarion (The Oaklandmarker hills neighborhood of Montclairmarker), The Piedmonter (Piedmontmarker), Alameda Journal (Alamedamarker), Berkeley Voice (Berkeleymarker), and El Cerrito Journal (El Cerrito)).

Corporate ownership

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 Sacramentomarker-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, 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.


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