Seattle JOA Battle Arrives at State Supreme Court

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By: E&P Staff

Washington State’s Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in the ongoing fight between the owners of The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about whether the Times has the right to dissolve the two papers’ joint operating agreement, the Post-Intelligencer reported this morning.

All nine justices are expected to hear oral arguments from attorneys representing both companies, and also from an attorney representing the Committee for a Two-Newspaper town, the “citizen’s committee” partially backed by the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, said reporter Dan Richman’s article in the P-I.

This will be the final appeal on the question of whether the Times’ financial losses in 2000 and 2001 can be counted as two of the three years of consecutive losses required for the paper to exit the JOA. Under the agreement, either paper may exit after three consecutive years of losses.

The family-owned Times said on April 29, 2003, that it would exercise that right after suffering losses in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The Hearst-owned P-I contends that 2000 and 2001 can’t be counted because losses in those years were caused by a newspaper strike.

In September 2003, a King County Superior Court agreed with Hearst and disallowed the 2000 and 2001 losses. But in March 2004, a three-judge panel of the state appeals court reversed that decision. Hearst then appealed that reversal to the state Supreme Court.

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