State looks intoBy Mary Adamski
The state attorney general's office is studying the circumstances of the closing of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin to determine whether there is a legal issue that would warrant government involvement.
"We are accumulating information to try to reach a conclusion about whether this constitutes an antitrust action," said Deputy Attorney General Jack Rosenzweig. "The facts don't appear to be at issue. The question is what is appropriate applicable law."
The attorney general's office has sought information from Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership, which announced last Thursday that the Star-Bulletin will be closed Oct. 30 after 117 years of publication.
General partner Rupert Phillips told employees that financial concerns of the investors led to the decision to end the company's role in the joint operating agreement with Gannett Co., owner of the Honolulu Advertiser.
Unions representing employees at the newspapers and the Hawaii Newspaper Agency asked Gov. Ben Cayetano to intervene in the dissolution of the newspaper.
Wayne Cahill, administrative officer of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, said the union's international counsel, Washington, D.C., attorney Barbara Camens, is talking with the attorney general's office.
"A substantial payment will be made by Gannett to Phillips. He did not attempt to find a buyer," Cahill said.
"They are looking into questions: Did they violate the Newspaper Preservation Act; did they violate the JOA; did they violate the Sherman Antitrust Act?"
Rosenzweig said he is collecting information from various sources, including Gannett.