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Tribune Co. reported to be readying tablet distribution

Updated: November 16, 2011 1:24AM

The Tribune Co. is readying a plan to offer subscribers a free touch-screen tablet computer, pre-loaded with Tribune newspaper apps, in exchange for a two-year subscription, according to a source familiar with the project.

The Tribune-branded tablets, which are said to run on the Android Honeycomb operating system, will operate like any other tablet computer, allowing users to access the web, play videogames and download apps, a source told the Sun-Times.

CNN also reported a story on Tribune’s tablet plans based on sources.

The Tribune Co. owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, among other newspapers, as well as 23 television stations.

The tablet idea is said to be the brainchild of Eddy Hartenstein, the CEO of Tribune Co. and CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, who founded DirecTV and who serves on the boards of Sirius XM Radio, communications networking firm Broadcom and memory flash-card manufacturer SanDisk Corp.

In July, Hartenstein promoted Tribune Publisher Tony Hunter to oversee the print and digital operations of six more newspapers, saying Hunter “understands our digital efforts and how critical they are to the success of our publishing group.”

Tribune Co. declined to comment on plans for a tablet.

Sun-Times Media LLC Chairman Jeremy Halbreich said most major metropolitan dailies are looking at such plans.

“We are looking at the economics involved, but have nothing to announce at this time,” he said. “It could be an attractive revenue stream, and represents another way in which consumers increasingly pay more for content than they have historically.”

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