LAS VEGAS (AP) — The publisher-editor of the Las Vegas Sun has accused the company that owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal of trying to kill the cross-town rivalry with a bid to buy out his newspaper and Internet interests.
Sun Publisher Brian Greenspun alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas that an offer from Stephens Media LLC violates federal antitrust law and a 1989 joint operating agreement overseen by the U.S. Justice Department.
"The Review-Journal was a monopoly in 1950 when my parents started this newspaper," Greenspun told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "They've been trying ever since to be a monopoly. My job is to keep the Las Vegas Sun as healthy as I can keep it, so southern Nevada has two competing and viable reportorial and editorial news products."
Mike Ferguson, Stephens Media CEO, scoffed at the claim that his company wants sole control of the Las Vegas newspaper market, and said it would "vigorously contest the unfounded allegations" of what he called a meritless lawsuit.
"To say that we are attempting to monopolize anything is utterly ridiculous considering the plethora of news and advertising sources available to Las Vegas residents and the realities of the modern media marketplace," Ferguson said. His statement was issued through Stephens Media and Review-Journal general counsel Mark Hinueber.
The Stephens Media buyout offer was accepted this month by a majority of the trustees of the Greenspun family trust that controls the Sun and its Internet properties. Brian Greenspun voted no.
The deal, which would be effective Sept. 1, would give ownership of the Stephens Media website lasvegas.com to Greenspun entities that already control the travel booking website Vegas.com.
"The terms ... contemplate that the Las Vegas Sun will cease operations as both a print and online newspaper," Greenspun's lawsuit says.
The complaint invokes the federal Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, the Sherman and Clayton antitrust acts and Nevada's state Unfair Practice Act. It seeks unspecified damages, a preliminary court order to block the Stephens Media deal with Greenspun trustees and a permanent injunction to prevent the termination of the joint operating agreement.
A Justice Department official, Gina Talamona, declined immediate comment on the case.
Newspaper industry analyst John Morton of Jessup, Md., noted that the department will have to approve the deal.
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