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I won't buy newspapers 'at any price' today: Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett may have sagely advice on investment in any number of fields, but one area he says he won't touch these days is the newspaper industry.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, New York
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2009 12:54 PM IST

Warren Buffett may have sagely advice on investment in any number of fields, but one area he says he won't touch these days is the newspaper industry.

'The Oracle of Omaha' made these remarks at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholder meeting last weekend, according to the Wall Street Journal online.

Though his Berkshire Hathway still owns Omaha-based Sun Newspapers and the Buffalo News, the world's top money manager views the future of the newspaper industry dismally, says the journal.

"For most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy them at any price,'' the world's second richest man was quoted as saying. "They (newspapers) have the possibility of going to just unending losses,'' said Buffet, who has long considered himself to be a newspaper man.

As long as newspapers were essential to readers, the journal quoted him as saying, they were essential to advertisers. But now news is available in many other venues.

Referring to the Washington Post Company in which Berkshire has a significant investment, Buffet said "the company has a solid cable business, a good reason to hold on to it, but its newspaper business is in trouble,'' according to the journal.

His deputy Charles Munger termed newspapers' woes "a national tragedy.'' "...these monopoly daily newspapers have been an important sinew to our civilization, they kept government more honest than they would otherwise be,'' Munger was quoted as saying.

One of Buffett's first jobs as a child was delivering newspapers, the journal said of his old links to the media industry. "An Omaha newspaper Berkshire owned, Sun Newspapers, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 based in part on a tip Mr. Buffett provided. One of Berkshire's biggest investments in the 1970s was the Buffalo News, which it still owns,'' according to the journal.

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