Thursday, December 23, 1999

Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

Agreement to
close Star-Bulletin
set to expire today

The newspaper's attorney
says there are no plans to
extend the termination agreement

By Susan Kreifels


The agreement to shut down the Honolulu Star-Bulletin expires today and the owners of Honolulu's two major daily newspapers are not extending it, according to an attorney in the case.

"I can confirm that the termination agreement has a Dec. 23 expiration date, that the expiration date has not been extended, and that there are no negotiations in progress to extend it," Alan Marx, the attorney for Star-Bulletin owner Liberty Newspapers, said yesterday from his Nashville, Tenn., office.

Corporate officials for Gannett, which owns the Honolulu Advertiser, did not comment.

The newspaper owners in September announced they had agreed to end a joint operating agreement and cease publication of the Star-Bulletin Oct. 30.

But the state sued, alleging violations of state and federal antitrust laws, and U.S. District Judge Alan Kay on Oct. 13 issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the closure.

Deputy Attorney General Rodney Kimura declined comment yesterday except to say that the government was proceeding with the lawsuit. Kimura said he hadn't received any communications from attorneys for the newspaper owners.

On Tuesday, Gannett and Liberty Newspapers withdrew their motion to dismiss the state's suit. A hearing on the motion had been set for Feb. 5 before Kay.

The owners last month lost an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said Kay did not abuse his discretion in granting the injunction.

And last week, the owners were denied a request to have their appeal heard by a larger court panel.

The owners have argued that Kay's decision violated their constitutional rights by forcing the Star-Bulletin to be published against its owner's wishes.

A trial before Kay is scheduled for September.

Under the termination agreement, Gannett was to pay Liberty a lump sum of $26.5 million, slightly less than what it would have received as guaranteed payments under the joint operating agreement that was to run through 2012.

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