Owners of Charleston Papers Oppose Order to Break Up JOA

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The owners of The Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail are asking a federal judge to dismiss a government lawsuit seeking to break up joint ownership of the newspapers.

Charleston-based Daily Gazette Company and Denver-based MediaNews Group contend in legal documents filed yesterday that there’s ample reason to toss the antitrust suit. They argue that the suit would force a federal judge to evaluate the content and quality of constitutionally protected speech.

They also argue that antitrust laws don’t require the daily newspapers to compete because of their joint operating agreement. They also say they’re exempt from antitrust laws.

The U-S Department of Justice filed the lawsuit in May. It claims the Daily Gazette Company and MediaNews Group broke federal law through a series of transactions that resulted in the Gazette’s owner buying the Daily Mail from MediaNews in 2004.

The suit also accuses of the Daily Gazette Company of moving to close the Daily Mail after buying it.

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