Since 1890, the antitrust division of the Justice Department has filed 17 cases, charging newspapers with violations of antitrust laws.
A brief description of the cases follows:
1. U.S. vs. Chattanooga News-Free Press, 1940, in which the government won a jury verdict on charges the News-Free Press had conspired to prevent operation of competing afternoon newspapers. The fine was a penny, in lieu of costs.
2.U.S. vs. Associated Press, 1942, attacking certain provisions of the wire service's bylaws, which the government said excluded competitors of AP members from membership in the organization and use of its wire service. The suit also attacked AP's agreement providing exclusive use of members' local coverage and acwuisition of a news-picture syndicate. The case went to the Supreme Court and AP was barred from excluding any newspaper from membership by reason of competition with a member. But the wirephoto acquisition was upheld.
3.U.S. vs. Lorain Journal, Ohio, 1949, alleging allocation of customers and territories, exclusive dealing and prevention of competitors' sales, including refusal to publish ads by merchants who advertised on a local radio station. These practices were ruled a violation of law in a case that went to the Supreme Court.
4. U.S. vs. Times Picayune Publishing Co., New Orleans, 1950, which attacked combined advertising sales staffs, exclusive news vendors and subsidization of evening paper losses with morning paper income, with lower rates for the evening publication. The Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling and said the advertising contracts did not constitute illegal "typing" agreements and that a competing evening paper had not been hurt.
5. U.S. vs. Mansfield Journal Co., Ohio, 1951, attacking exclusive advertising contracts, including a refusal to take ads for companies that advertised on a radio station. A consen judgment ended the case when the newspapers agreed to halt the practices.
6. U.S. vs. Kansas City Star, 1953, filed after a federal grand jury indicated the Star and two officers with monopolizing news and advertising dissemination by refusing certain advertising, setting rates in such a way as to preclude advertisers to purchase space in both the Star and Kansas City Times (owned by the same firm, along with two broadcast stations), and that subscribers were forced to buy the Times Star and Sunday Star in combination even if they desired to buy only one. After a criminal trial, the newspaper was found guilt and a Court of Appeals affirmed that action, after which the Star firm signed a consent decree, prohibiting forced combination sales of newspapers or ad space.
7. U.S. vs. Harte-Hanks Newspapers, Texas, 1958, in which the government alleged that ad rates had been sliced and a newspaper operated at a loss to drive out a competitor. A federal court granted Harte-Hanks' motion for acquittal at the close of the trial.
8. U.S. vs. Wichita Eagle, Kansas, 1959, which charged illegal combination advertising and circulation sales. On the day the complaint was filed, a consent decree was signed to prohibit such practices.
9. U.S. vs. E. W. Scripps, Ohio, 1964, charging the firm with monopolizing the daily newspaper business in Cincinnati, through acquisitions of competing papers. Scripps was forced to sell the Equirer and kept the Post & Times Star.
10. U.S. vs. Lima News, Ohio, 1964, also attacking acquisition of a competing newspaper as creating a local monopoly. A consent decree ended the case with the Lima News agreeing to injunctions "designed to facilitate entry of a competing newspaper," according to the Justice Department.
11. U.S. vs. Citizen Publishing Co., Arizona, 1965, attacking a joint publishing agreement of daily newspapers in Tucson, as well as acquisition of one paper by the other. Justice won the case and the Supreme Court upheld the verdict.
(The Tucson case led to introduction in 1967 of the Failing Newspaper Act, which explicitly would have made legal such point printing and operating agreements as had existed in Arizona. Reintroduced as the Newspaper Preservation Act, the controversial legislation passed in 1970 and was signed into law. Supporters say the law could keep weak papers from folding but critics contend that democracy would be better served if weak companies are allowed to die.
(In any event, since the law was enacted, there has been no significant rush to sign joint operating agreements. When former President Nixon signed the law, 22 pairs of daily newspapers in that number of cities had previous agreements, cemented under a "grandfather" clause. The financially troubled Anchorage, Alaska. Daily News is the only paper to enter a joint agreement since then, with more prosperous Anchorage Times. The Pulitzer Prize-winning News, however, has not found the savings it expected and the two papers have been at odds - though neither has sought Justice Department intervention.)
12. U.S. vs. Times Mirror Co. California, 1965, in which the publisher of The Los Angeles Times was forced to sell the San Bernadino Sun, after the court agreed that the acquisition violated antitrust laws because of competing circulation areas.
13. U.S. vs. World Journal Tribune, New York, 1966, attacking the acquisition by the combined newspaper (a merger of the Herald Tribune, World Telegram & The Sun and Journal American) of exclusive rights to certain syndicated features of the old Herald Tribune. A consent decree ended the case, when the newspaper waived exclusive rights to some features that formerly had appeared in the three separate papers.
14. U.S. vs. Lindsay-Schaub Newspapers, Illinois, 1967, alleging that ad rates of a Champaign-Urbana paper were cut to force out competition. A consent decree was signed, prohibiting use of such practices in the future.
15. U.S. vs. Thomson-Brush-Moore Newspapers, Ohio, 1967, attacking acquisition by Thomson Newspapers of the brush-Moore group because it wouldlead to concentration of newspaper ownership in Stark County, Ohio, and eliminate competition between the Canton Repository and Alliance Review. A consent agreement required Thomson to sell the Alliance newspaper.
16. U.S. vs. Gannett Co., Illinois, 1963, attacking the chain's acquisition of Rockford Newspapers, because Gannett already owned a TV station in Rockford Gannett signed a consent judgment and agreed to sell the TV station or newspapers; Gannett kept the papers.
17. U.S. vs. Times Printing Co., Chattanooga, Tenn., 1970, attacking publication of the Post at a loss, with "unreasonably low" ad and subscription rates, in an attempt at monopoly. The case ended with a consent agreement to stop the practices.