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Pelosi asks DOJ to allow newspaper consolidation

The Chronicle reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking the Department of Justice to give Bay Area newspaper companies more leeway to merge or consolidate business operations to stay afloat.

She made her request in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. The letter followed a meeting she had last week with the Chronicle’s Phil Bronstein and Hearst general counsel Eve Burton.

She asked the DOJ to weigh the public benefit of saving the Chron and other papers from closure against the government’s antitrust mission to guard against anti-competitive behavior.

The Bay Area’s two big newspaper publishers, Hearst and MediaNews Group, have long wanted to consolidate certain operations, such as circulation. But when Hearst bought a 31 percent interest in MNG in 2007, the Department of Justice said that Hearst could not own any of MNG’s Bay Area assets. So the 31 percent interest applies to MNG operations outside the Bay Area.

Text of Pelosi’s letter:

(Photo credit: AP)

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