(Phoenix, Ariz. – May 15, 2009) Attorney General Terry Goddard today filed a motion in Federal Court in Tucson for a temporary restraining order to prevent Gannett Corp. from closing the Tucson Citizen.
A lawsuit filed along with the motion alleges that Gannett’s closure of the Citizen violates state and federal anti-trust laws. According to court documents, closing the Citizen is the result of an agreement between Gannett and Lee Enterprises, Inc. (Lee), owner of the Arizona Daily Star, to eliminate competition and increase profits to both companies.
Gannett and Lee are participants in a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) through which both companies share in the profits and losses of their daily Tucson papers, the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Daily Star, respectively. The JOA was only possible due to a congressionally-mandated federal anti-trust exemption that was established to maintain competition in local newspaper markets. The JOA resulted in over $16 million profit to Gannet and Lee last year alone.
According to Goddard, while the profits of both newspaper ownership groups will increase by shutting down the Citizen, the shut down would violate the purpose for which the antitrust exemption was granted.
"The Tucson Citizen is a 138-year-old institution that has served Arizona well," Attorney General Terry Goddard said. "I believe serious questions must be answered about whether this action violates the anti-trust laws. The agreement between Gannet and Lee will result in decreased competition and, consequently, monopoly profits to both companies.”
The complaint and motion for a temporary restraining order were filed in U.S. Federal District court today. Judge Collins has been assigned to the case.
For more information, please contact Anne Hilby at (602) 725-2200.