Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Calif. weeklies settle multi-million-dollar dispute

This isn't rural, but appears to be a victory for independent weekly newspapers, which are especially important in rural areas. The San Francisco Bay Guardian and SF Weekly have reached a confidential settlement of a lawsuit in which the independenly owned Guardian accused the Weekly, owned by Villlage Voice Media, of selling advertising below cost to run it out of business, in violation of state antitrust law. The Guardian had won a $21 million jury verdict, and the California Supreme Court "denied a hearing on the Weekly's appeal," reports Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Under court orders during the appeals, the Guardian took half the Weekly's ad revenue. Both papers have free distribution and rely solely on ads. Bruce Brugmann, the Guardian's editor and publisher, called the case "a model for protecting other small, independent businesses facing predatory pricing schemes from competitors." A Village Voice executive said the Weekly would "continue business as usual" and has continued to widen its circulation lead over the Guardian, the Chronicle reports. For our earlier items on the dispute, click here.

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