DOJ Settles West Va. JOA: Requires ‘Daily Mail’ to be Sold at Deep Discount

By: E&P Staff

The Department of Justice struck a settlement with two West Virginia newspapers publishing under a joint operating agreement. The DOJ challenged the structure of the agreement in May 2007 between the Daily Gazette Co., which publishes The Charleston Gazette, and MediaNews Group, which publishes the Charleston Daily Mail.

The government charged the Daily Gazette and MediaNews Group with trying to eliminate the Charleston Daily Mail when the companies restructured the JOA in 2004: MediaNews Group sold its 50% share in the partnership to the Daily Gazette but retained editorial control of the Daily Mail.

Both newspapers were published under a JOA formed in 1958.

The proposed settlement requires the two companies to restructure the agreement again by giving MediaNews Group independent control over the operations of the Daily Mail as well as economic incentives, according to the DOJ. The settlement also requires the Daily Mail to be sold at a deep discount — and not the Gazette — in order to build up subscribers.

“Today’s settlement resolves the department’s antitrust concerns and allows readers to continue to have a choice between two independent local daily newspapers,” Christine Varney, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.

The proposed settlement has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Charleston, W. Va., for final approval.

Read more here at the Charleston Gazette and here at the Daily Mail.

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