By: Mark Fitzgerald
ANTITRUST INVESTIGATORS RECENTLY spent three hours talking with Macomb Daily publisher J. Gene Chambers about the suburban paper’s charge that Detroit’s jointly produced daily papers are trying to drive it out of business.
The May 17 visit by two antitrust division representatives, John Weedon, chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s Cleveland Field Office, and Kevin Culum, is the latest development in the federal investigation into the charges of predatory pricing.
Independent Newspapers Inc., publisher of the Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune of Royal Oaks and the suburban Detroit Advisor & Source Newspapers, formally complained last fall that the Detroit Newspaper Agency had set certain ad rates at predatory levels to take business from the suburban papers. Officials at DNA flatly deny the charge. DNA is the joint operating agency managing business and production operations for Knight-Ridder’s Detroit Free Press and Gannett’s Detroit News.
Several Michigan congressmen, including U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, urged an investigation into the charges.
In an April 26 letter to Levin, the assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division confirmed the division had launched an investigation.
“We have been in contact with Mr. J. Gene Chambers, publisher of Independent Newspapers Inc., regarding this matter and are currently investigating whether there is sufficient information to indicate a violation of the antitrust laws. You may be assured that when we have completed our investigation, we will take any further action that may be appropriate,” assistant attorney general Anne Bingaman wrote Levin.