LAS VEGAS (AP) — The corporate owners of the Las Vegas Review-Journal cleared one hurdle Friday in a bid to buy out the family publishers of their cross-town rival and end a joint operating agreement with the Las Vegas Sun.
But the family member who runs the Sun promised to keep trying to block Stephens Media LLC from buying the newspaper his father started in 1950 and killing the agreement signed in 1989.
"I believe in this city. I believe in two newspapers. I don't have a choice," Sun Editor-Publisher Brian Greenspun said. "What I heard from the judge is, come back with an agreement. This is round one."
U.S. District Judge James Mahan spoke nostalgically about living in a two-newspaper town, then decided that it was too early to block Stephens Media from trying to buy Sun newspaper and Internet interests from four Greenspun family member trustees.
In a courtroom filled with Review-Journal supporters on one side and Sun backers on the other, the judge rejected a request for an injunction from Greenspun, the lone holdout among his siblings in the buyout deal.
Brian Greenspun's brother, Daniel Greenspun, sat in the back of the courtroom and declined comment.
Daniel Greenspun was one of three Greenspun siblings who agreed on Aug. 7 to preliminary terms of a deal to sell their Sun interests to Stephens Media for $10, a one-time payment of $70,000 apiece, and the lifting of an ongoing $2.5 million per year license fee for an Internet website. He was not a party in his brother's lawsuit against Stephens Media.
The sale would end publication of the Sun newspaper — which is distributed as a six-to-10 page daily insert in the Review-Journal — and give ownership of the Stephens Media website lasvegas.com to Greenspun companies that already control the travel booking website Vegas.com.
The Sun website lasvegassun.com and a bid to have Greenspun family members sign a non-compete clause were off the table, Stephens Media attorney Donald Campbell told the judge.
Campbell suggested the Sun could continue to operate as an online news source, competing with dozens of broadcast stations, websites and blogs.
"We would encourage the Las Vegas Sun to continue with their newspaper on their website," he said. "That has nothing to do with antitrust."
Greenspun and his attorneys argue that the Sun online news operation can't survive without revenue from the newspaper, and that Stephens Media wants to monopolize the Las Vegas news market. They say ending the joint operating agreement overseen by the U.S. Justice Department would lift antitrust protections afforded by the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 and violate federal antitrust law.