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DOJ opposes antitrust relief for newspapers

The Obama administration today threw cold water on bills to give newspapers immunity from antitrust laws, throwing cold water on an attempt by Hearst and MediaNews to combine newspaper operations in the Bay Area.

“We do not believe any new exemptions for newspapers are necessary,” the Justice Department’s Carl Shapiro told a House committee that’s looking at whether the government should help struggling newspapers.

The DOJ’s position is opposite that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder to ask that the government lighten up on antitrust laws, allowing Hearst’s Chron to team up with MediaNews Group’s Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and nine other dailies MNG owns the Bay Area.

According to the AP, Shapiro said that any new antitrust exemptions for newspapers were “not the way to go.” The DOJ, he said, will weigh each merger proposal individually to determine if it would substantially harm competition and consumers.

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