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Saturday, January 8, 2000



Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

JOA partners resume
push to kill Bulletin

By Debra Barayuga
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

The owners of Honolulu's two daily newspapers are moving ahead with their case against a state lawsuit seeking to block the shutdown of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Liberty Newspapers, owner of the Star-Bulletin, and Gannett Pacific Corp., owner of The Honolulu Advertiser, yesterday filed in U.S. District Court standard responses to the state's Oct. 6 complaint sparked by a proposed agreement to close the Star-Bulletin.

Diane Hastert, attorney for Liberty Newspapers, had no comment.

State and Gannett attorneys could not be reached for comment.

The case is set for trial Sept. 21.

The state and a citizens group called Save Our Star-Bulletin filed suit against the newspaper owners saying their agreement to close the afternoon daily in exchange for a payment violated state and federal antitrust laws and amounted to a monopoly.

U.S. District Judge Alan Kay on Oct. 13 issued a preliminary injunction barring the closure until he hears the merits of the case.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Kay's decision and last month denied the newspapers' subsequent appeal, saying the lower court had not abused its discretion in granting the injunction.

The proposal to end the newspapers' joint operating agreement and close the Star-Bulletin expired Dec. 23.

The newspaper owners a few days earlier had withdrawn their motion to dismiss the case, but reserved the right to seek dismissal at an appropriate time.

In yesterday's filing, Gannett and Liberty cited several defenses, including that the agreement to close the Star-Bulletin and end the newspapers' joint operating agreement is exempt from antitrust laws under the Newspaper Preservation Act; and that the effort to keep the Star-Bulletin open violates the newspapers' constitutional rights.



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