SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Examiner filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the city's dominant daily newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, has slashed advertising prices to stifle competition.
The suit claims Chronicle owner The Hearst Corp. and officials at the paper took advantage of its greater corporate resources to "selectively and secretly" target Examiner advertisers with "below-cost and discriminatory offers designed to injure the Examiner."
The two newspapers shared business operations and revenues from 1965 until 2000, when then-Examiner-owner Hearst acquired the Chronicle and sold the Examiner to a local family.
The suit alleges the Chronicle charged significantly higher rates for ad space as expected after selling the Examiner, but reversed course when the new Examiner owners, San Francisco Newspaper Company LLC, took over in 2011.
Attorneys said the Chronicle began using the tactic when the new group, which unlike its immediate predecessors, had significant experience operating major newspapers, took over the Examiner and brought the threat of heightened competition.
"It started happening just as new ownership came in," Examiner attorney Ralph C. Alldredge said in a telephone interview.
The suit claims that the Chronicle charged less than $1,000 for space that its public rate lists said cost between $59,000 and $92,000 per page.