Congratulations to the Rocky Mountain News for being the first of the two dailies to publish anything on specific actions that the Justice Department might take if the Rocky were sold.
The Rocky asserted as fact that Justice would review any sale of the Rocky, and it offered two views on whether Justice might force MediaNews to accept a new partner in the JOA.
Here’s what today’s Rocky story had to say:
“The Justice Department, which approved the 2001 JOA between The Post and News, would have to review any sale transaction. Tracy Simmons, administrative officer of the Denver Newspaper Guild, said Wednesday, “I’m no attorney, but my understanding is that you can’t separate the newsroom from the (Denver Newspaper Agency) without being in violation of the JOA. “The rationale for the JOA was to preserve two independent editorial voices, and any move to compromise that raises questions for the Justice Department.” Mark Fitzgerald, editor-at- large of newspaper industry trade publication Editor & Publisher, had a different take. “I don’t think Justice would have much to say about it,” he said. “It approved the agreement that allows MediaNews right of first refusal. I don’t see any standing (by Justice) to say that you’ve got to be a partner with somebody you don’t want to.” Fitzgerald cited the case of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, which wanted to shut down in the mid-1980s. Although Justice told the newspaper’s owners that they had to look for a buyer, regulators didn’t force the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to accept that buyer as a joint operating partner.”
But the St. Louis Globe-Democrat could operate as an independent daily without the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In Denver, the new owner of the Rocky probably wouldn’t be able to print the newspaper, unless it’s part of the JOA. So Justice, whose goal would be to preserve two newspapers, might take a different approach here and force MediaNews to accept the new buyer.
SquareState.net accurately summarizes previous references in the Post and the Rocky to possible actions by the Justice Department here.