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Freedom Communications Inc. in Santa Ana is asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Central District of California to approve its plans to hold an asset auction March 16.

The publisher of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana and Press-Enterprise in Riverside is also asking the court to grant “stalking horse protection to potential stalking horse bidders.”

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Freedom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 1, and said Chief Executive Rich Mirman and Chairman Eric Spitz will join Santa Ana real estate developer Mike Harrah in trying to buy the media company in the auction. The bid will include a “cash component, assumption of liabilities and the retention of the employee pension program,” according to Freedom.

The Chicago-based Tribune Publishing Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, is also expected to be one of several bidders, along with MediaNews Group in Denver.

Freedom got a $4.5 million last month from Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund Silver Point Finance LLC to operate its business during bankruptcy proceedings. Silver Point and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. are Freedom’s two primary prepetition secured creditors.