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A blow to newspaper consolidation?

Jordan Robertson of the AP’s San Francisco bureau wrote this story today about the Obama administration’s decision to more aggressively enforce antitrust laws. The story is about how the tech firms may have to rethink their business strategies or expansion plans.

The policy change may also have implications for the newspaper industry. In March, Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Justice Department to relax its enforcement of antitrust rules regarding newspaper acquisitions, which would have paved the way for Hearst and MediaNews to combine newspaper operations in the Bay Area. Her request followed a meeting she had last week with the Chronicle’s Phil Bronstein and Hearst general counsel Eve Burton.

On April 21, the Department of Justice rejected Pelosi’s request. “We do not believe any new exemptions for newspapers are necessary,” the DOJ’s Carl Shapiro told a House committee that is looking at whether the government should help struggling newspapers.

While the Bush administration was seen as being more friendly to mergers and acquisitions, the AP story points out that one of the three antitrust cases it filed was against MediaNews concerning an attempted newspaper merger in Charleston, W.Va.

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