16 Mar 2009, 5:35pm
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Pelosi: Suspend Monopoly Laws to Save Dead Tree Rag

Pelosi writes to Justice on saving newspapers

Seattle PI Bites the Dust

by Zachary Coile, SF Chronicle, March 16, 2009 [here]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, worried about the fate of The Chronicle and other financially struggling newspapers, urged the Justice Department today to consider giving Bay Area papers more leeway to merge or consolidate business operations to stay afloat.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, released by Pelosi’s office, the San Francisco Democrat asked the department to weigh the public benefit of saving The Chronicle and other papers from closure against the agency’s anti-trust mission to guard against anti-competitive behavior.

“We must ensure that our policies enable our news organizations to survive and to engage in the news gathering and analysis that the American people expect,” Pelosi wrote.

The speaker said the issue of newspapers’ survival and anti-trust law will be the subject of a hearing soon before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, chaired by her close ally, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Los Angeles.

Pelosi’s spokesman, Brendan Daly, said the speaker was moved by the recent announcement by the Hearst Corp., the parent company of The Chronicle, that it would be forced to sell or close the paper if it could not achieve critical cost-savings quickly. Hearst has said the paper lost $50 million last year and that this year’s losses will likely be worse.

The Chronicle’s largest union, representing nearly 500 employees, ratified a contract Saturday that will clear the way for at least 150 job cuts while also eliminating certain rights and benefits.

Another Hearst paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, will cease publication Tuesday and become a web-only news outlet, Hearst said today.

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