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Monday, October 4, 1999



Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

Anzai: State will intervene in Star-Bulletin shutdown

Anzai also he understands the
U.S. Justice Department is studying
the newspaper deal

Hawaii Congressionals contact Justice

By Gregg K. Kakesako
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

State Attorney General Earl Anzai says the state will go to court to block the shutdown of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, which is set to close Oct. 30 after 117 years of publication.

"We intend to challenge it because we believe it is in violation of antitrust law," said Anzai of the decision by Liberty Newspapers, the owner of the Star-Bulletin, and Gannett Co. Inc. to close the afternoon paper.

Anzai also said it was his understanding that the U.S. Justice Department was looking into the action of the two mainland corporations.

David Shapiro, Star-Bulletin managing editor, said: "Good luck to him, but I don't know if the state has the jurisdiction or the ability to succeed."

Anzai, who left Honolulu today to be in Washington, D.C., in time for the state's Supreme Court arguments in the Rice vs. Cayetano lawsuit on Wednesday, declined to discuss the state's legal strategy and would only say that he planned to go to court before the planned Oct. 30 closure date.

"We're always against what we consider to be antitrust activities," said Anzai, "or reducing or eliminating competition, and obviously in this particular situation I don't think anyone will says it's better to have one newspaper than two, as long as they are editorially independent."

Tapa

"We intend to challenge it
because we believe it is in
violation of antitrust law."

Earl Anzai
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Tapa

John Flanagan, editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin, added: "For someone who put 12 years into the Star-Bulletin, if it could stay open, I would welcome that."

Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnerships announced Sept. 16 that it planned to shutdown the afternoon paper at the end of this month.

Rupert Phillips, Liberty's principal owner, cited declining circulation and said Gannett, which operates the morning paper, was willing to be relieved from its joint operating agreement with the Star-Bulletin.

Under an agreement with Gannett, which owns the Advertiser, Liberty Newspapers will be paid an undisclosed sum based on savings Gannett could expect from being relieved of its obligations under a joint operating agreement between the two newspapers.

More than 90 Star-Bulletin employees and about 50 Hawaii Newspaper Agency workers are to lose their jobs when the paper closes.

The joint operating agreement, signed by both papers in 1962 when the Advertiser's circulation was sagging, allowed the two newspapers to share printing, production and advertising operations while maintaining two separate editorial staffs.

Michael J. Fisch, president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, said he didn't know exactly what Anzai was planning to do, and "it would be premature for me to comment."


Hawaii Congressionals
contact Justice Department

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service

Tapa

In Washington, meanwhile, Hawaii's congressional delegation has written the U.S. Justice Department, urging antitrust attorneys there to take a look at the closing.

In Washington, meanwhile, Hawaii's congressional delegation has written the U.S. Justice Department, urging antitrust attorneys there to take a look at the closing.

With more and more newspapers closing despite the existence of joint operating agreements, the delegation wrote, "this may be the time for the Department to enforce the Newspaper Preservation Act to prevent further destruction of newspapers whose corporate owners benefit from the limited antitrust immunities afforded them by joint operating agreements."

The letter added, "Many members of the Hawaii Bar have suggested that the closure of the Star-Bulletin upon promise of a payment by the Honolulu Advertiser may be a violation of antitrust law."

The letter, signed by all four members of the delegation, was sent Friday to Joel Klein, head of the department's antitrust division.

Star-Bulletin closing Oct. 30, 1999



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