By: Todd Shields
Post, Rocky Mountain News May Avoid Antitrust Hearing
by Todd Shields
Federal lawyers on Friday said Denver’s daily newspapers should be
allowed to merge their business operations without an antitrust
hearing, clearing a major hurdle from the path of the publications’
proposed joint operating agreement.
The recommendation was delivered late Friday by the Antitrust
Division of the Department of Justice. It increases the likelihood
that The Denver Post and the Denver Rocky Mountain News can avoid
a lengthy and expensive hearing that would be tantamount to an
The newspapers have long been involved in one of the nation’s most
bitter circulation struggles, a contest featuring intense editorial
competition and cut-rate subscriptions. In May, the papers said
the battle had left the News hemorrhaging financially and in danger
On Friday, antitrust lawyers said they agree that the News is in
probable danger of financial failure. They recommended that Attorney
General Janet Reno approve the deal.
The newspapers’ unions already have spoken in support of the joint
operating agreement, removing one possible source of opposition.
Some Denver-area residents have objected, saying the News could be
saved without the protection from competition the arrangement would
provide. They said the arrangement threatens higher advertising
The Justice Department gave no immediate indication when Reno might
rule, although it said that could not happen until a 30-day public
reply period had elapsed. That period in turn will begin after the
department fields possible requests from the newspapers to keep
portions of Friday’s antitrust report private.
A joint operating agreement lets the newspapers share profits and
the expenses of production and operation.
Todd Shields (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Washington
editor at E&P.
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher