Hearst to Appeal Seattle JOA Ruling

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(AP) The company that owns the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said Monday it would appeal a state Appeals Court decision in favor of The Seattle Times in the two papers’ battle over the fate of their joint operating agreement (JOA).

Hearst Corp., which owns the Post-Intelligencer, said in a statement Monday that it believes the state Court of Appeals erred and would seek to take the case to the state Supreme Court.

In March, a three-judge appeals panel reversed a lower court’s decision in favor of Hearst. In a unanimous ruling, the appeals panel found a county judge was wrong when he decided not to allow two years of strike-related financial losses by the Times to count toward an escape clause that could end the JOA.

The panel directed the judge to order summary judgment in favor of the Times and allow losses in 2000 and 2001 to count for the escape clause.

The clause lets either party end the agreement after three years of financial losses. But Hearst had cited a provision that it said precludes counting losses from extraordinary events, such as a strike.

Hearst said it is “pursuing an appeal as part of its continuing efforts to prevent the Seattle Times Company from ceasing JOA publication of the Post-Intelligencer and achieving its goal of turning Seattle into a one-newspaper town.”

Times spokeswoman Kerry Coughlin said the Times remains open to renegotiating the terms of the JOA to keep both papers in business.

“Our goal … is to keep The Seattle Times independent, not put the Post-Intelligencer out of business,” Coughlin said.

The Times — owned by the Blethen family, with a 49.5% share held by Knight Ridder of San Jose, Calif. — cited losses in 2000, 2001 and 2002 when it sought to begin negotiations to end the agreement it’s had with the Post-Intelligencer since 1983.

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