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Hearst Threatens To Shut Down San Francisco Chronicle

Publication Date: 
February 24, 2009
San Jose Mercury News
Pete Carey

Professor Joseph A. Grundfest is quoted in the San Jose Mercury News in an article about the possible sale or closure of the San Francisco Chronicle as a result of declining newspaper revenues. Grundfest discusses the threat of antitrust lawsuits if the Chronicle were to be sold to the parent company that also owns the San Jose Mercury News:

Media observers speculated Tuesday that the ultimate outcome might be a distress sale to Denver-based MediaNews, owner of the Mercury News and all the other major daily newspapers in the Bay Area. MediaNews chief executive and vice chairman Dean Singleton declined to comment.

But any move to combine the newspapers could revive the antitrust legal battle waged by San Francisco investor Clint Reilly when MediaNews took over the Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times in 2006. Reilly could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer, Joe Alioto Jr., said, "I do not believe the courts would allow such a thing."

Legal experts said the companies could argue that there was no other buyer for the Chronicle and that it would shut down without a deal with MediaNews.

Stanford University law professor Joseph A. Grundfest said the companies could raise a "Newspapers — who cares?" argument. "With all the competition they have from the Internet and other sources, merging two newspapers isn't the problem it used to be," Grundfest said.