Dean Singleton appeared to have little trouble obtaining antitrust approvals from the Department of Justice when he bought several daily newspapers in the Bay Area. The same can’t be said for his efforts in Charleston, W.Va., where a federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss a DOJ case against his MediaNews Group and a local newspaper company. According to the AP:
- The DOJ’s lawsuit claims that the May 2004 purchase of the MediaNews-owned Charleston Daily Mail by the Daily Gazette Co. for $55 million violated antitrust laws. The Daily Gazette Co. owns the city’s morning newspaper, The Charleston Gazette.
The lawsuit also claimed the Daily Gazette Co. purchased the afternoon newspaper with the intent to close it. Both newspapers had been operating under a joint operating agreement since 1958, and under the terms of the sale MediaNews would be paid a set fee to operate the Daily Mail.
In seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, both companies argued it harmed First Amendment principles and that the sale was protected by the Newspaper Preservation Act and various exemptions to antitrust laws.
[U.S. District Judge John T.] Copenhaver rejected those arguments in a 30-page ruling issued Thursday.