Bay Area brouhaha

By: Lucia Moses

Chronicle-Examiner deal under official microscope(s)
San Francisco’s district attorney has added himself to the list of authorities looking into whether the sale of the San Francisco Chronicle and its potential merger with the San Francisco Examiner violate antitrust laws.
District Attorney Terence Hallinan has been investigating the possible merger for at least four weeks, a spokesman says. The probe is independent of similar inquiries by the California attorney general and San Francisco city attorney’s offices, the spokesman says.
“The proposed buyout has major implications for the Bay Area, and questions stirred by the original merger are now all the more intense with this new impending merger,” Hallinan says in a prepared statement. “Every law-enforcement agency in the Bay Area and the state attorney general’s office are concerned and want to take a look at it and see if there’s anything legally to fear.”
The Hearst Corp., owner of the Examiner, announced in August that it is buying the Chronicle, its joint operating agreement (joa) partner, and plans to merge the two papers unless a buyer of the Examiner emerges, which observers say is unlikely.
Some fear a merged paper would hurt competition and leave the city with fewer editorial voices, prompting members of the city’s board of supervisors to call for the U.S. Justice Department to hold hearings in the city before approving the Chronicle sale. No date has been set.
Deputy city attorney Pat Mahoney says his office has been talking with the Justice Department, which has jurisdiction over the Chronicle sale and potential merger, and state attorney general about the case. “We expect there will be a coordinated review of this matter,” he says. “We’re looking at all legal issues.”
Examiner and Chronicle executives couldn’t be reached for comment.
(Editor & Publisher [Caption]
(copyright: Editor & Publisher September 11, 1999) [Caption]

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