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.

Bay Area Media News


  1. Baseball has an exemption. But that’s something REALLY important. Why should anyone care about a news monopoly? The AP has had a one on the gathering and distribution of news for decades. The death of the old UPI saw to that.
    I hope everyone sees “State of Play.” The young internet reporter is the future of reporting – don’t let truth stand in the way of a fact.

  2. The federal government doesn’t seem to have any objections to mergers by financial institutions and auto manufacturers. Why not give newspapers the same treatment? A primary reason for joint operating agreements in local markets was to preserve media competition, but that died a long time ago.

  3. Newspapers do not deserve any special treatment. They would be stronger if they hadn’t been propped up by Joint Operating Agreements, which was the bailout of choice for newspapers a generation ago. If the Chronicle or MediaNews can’t survive, let them die so that others can fill the void.

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