‘Journal Sentinel’ Wins Discounting Suit

By: JR Ross, Associated Press Writer

(AP) The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a newspaper publisher failed to prove the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel engaged in predatory pricing when competing for subscribers in a neighboring county.

The decision upholds a lower court’s ruling to dismiss Conley Publishing Group’s lawsuit against the publisher of the Journal Sentinel, Journal Communications.

Conley filed the lawsuit in 2000, claiming the Milwaukee newspaper engaged in discounting campaigns, used its monopoly advantage in an anti-competitive way and used predatory pricing to undercut Conley’s sales in Waukesha County, west of Milwaukee.

The high court said the company, which publishes the daily Waukesha Freeman newspaper, had not presented enough proof to back up those claims.

Circuit Court Judge Donald Hassin had dismissed the lawsuit in 2001, saying Conley didn’t prove the Freeman’s circulation decline was linked to the Journal Sentinel‘s subscription program.

The Waukesha publisher claimed in its lawsuit that the Journal Sentinel gave away its Monday-to-Saturday papers free to select Sunday-only subscribers, which constituted an “unearned discount,” a prohibited trade practice under state law.

Conley appealed and asked for a jury trial. But a state appeals court sent the case directly to the Supreme Court to decide how Wisconsin law applies in predatory pricing cases.

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