The directors of Diversified Media Inc., a company controlled by O. Roy Chalk, yesterday cleared the way for the sale of the largest Spanish-language daily in the United States, El Diario-La Prensa, to the Gannett newspaper chain for $9 million.

A spokesman for Gannett Co. Inc. yesterday declined to confirm the purchase price announced by Chalk, a flamboyant figure who owned D.C. Transit System Inc. until 1973. But Gannett said Tuesday that it had agreed "in principle" to a cash purchase of the New York-based newspaper. h

El Diario-La Prensa has a 61,000 circulation (63,000 on Sundays). El Diario began publishing in 1913, La Prensa in 1938. The two were merged in 1962 when they were purchased by Chalk's Diversified Media.

Gannett Chairman Allen H. Neuharth said the chain plans to expand the paper's circulation in the New York area. He added that Gannett may link El Diario-La Prensa to a satellite network to provide Spanish-language news in other cities.

Gannett said the purchase was to be made in cash, but declined to disclose the price. Closing is expected within 60 days, but is subject to approval by the directors and shareholders of both companies and by the shareholders of Diversified Media.