LOS ANGELES – For the second time in 15 months, the editor of the Los Angeles Times has been fired for refusing to impose budget cuts ordered by his publisher.

Times Publisher David D. Hiller fired Editor James O’Shea following a confrontation in which Hiller directed O’Shea to carry out $4 million in cuts, according to a person familiar with the situation. The move did not become public until it was reported Sunday by the Wall Street Journal.

The turmoil has erupted one month after the closing of the $8.2 billion buyout of Tribune Co., the Times’ parent company, by an employee stock plan and Chicago real-estate baron Sam Zell. Zell was out of the country Sunday and unavailable for comment, a spokeswoman said.

Zell has said that his goal would be to find ways of increasing Tribune’s revenue and that unceasing cost cuts were a “dead end.” However, he also has said he would give greater power to regional executives such as Hiller to act as they saw fit to cope with plunging advertising revenue.

O’Shea arrived at the Times from the Chicago Tribune in November 2006, a week after Hiller’s firing of Times Editor Dean Baquet in another budget dispute. Hiller, former publisher of the Chicago Tribune, took over as Times publisher a month earlier, succeeding Jeffrey M. Johnson, who had been ousted by his superiors at Tribune’s Chicago headquarters over the same issues.

AP-NY-01-20-08 1824EST

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