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News: C&J antitrust lawsuit ends with changes to Salt Lake Tribune governing documents
A federal antitrust lawsuit brought in 2014 by C&J attorneys Karra Porter and Dave Richards has ended with changes made to the challenged Joint Operating Agreement between Salt Lake City's two daily newspapers, the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune.  As part of a press release, Porter said,
 
"When we filed our antitrust lawsuit, we had two main concerns.  First, under the new “Joint Operating Agreement” (partnership agreement) between the two owners, the Tribune’s share of profits had been cut to 30 percent, a figure too low for the Tribune to survive.  Second, under the JOA, the owner of the Deseret News had an unlimited power to veto any proposed purchase of the Tribune.
 
As conditions to the sale of the Tribune, both of these concerns have been addressed.  First, the Tribune’s share of profits has been increased from 30 to 40 percent.  Second, the owner of the News no longer has unrestricted “veto” power over the ownership of the Tribune.  These changes are reflected in the signed copy of the new JOA Addendum.
 
Additionally, certain other matters affecting the Tribune’s profitability were addressed in the terms of the sale that we are not free to discuss due to a confidentiality provision that is common in business transactions.  We believe that, with these changes, the Tribune can survive long-term.
 
The change to the “veto power” is especially significant.   The News’ unfettered power to block a proposed purchase lowered the market value of the Tribune, chilled potential purchasers, and interfered with the Tribune’s editorial independence.  The JOA will now contain language commonly used in partnership agreements.  Under that provision, the News cannot unreasonably withhold its consent to a purchase of the Tribune.  That language will allow a court to independently review any future attempt by the News to interfere with a sale of the Tribune.
 
We did not reach our decision lightly.  We studied the confidential sale documents.  We met with Paul Huntsman, who imposed no restrictions on the questions we could ask.  We felt that Mr. Huntsman answered our questions candidly, and voluntarily provided certain other information that demonstrated good faith.  We reviewed documents that had been produced by the defendants over the past two years of this litigation.  We spoke with industry consultants and others knowledgeable about the issues in the case.   We are comfortable that the provisions now in place, along with the Huntsman family’s longstanding commitment to our community, will protect the Tribune.  Citizens for Two Voices will, however, continue to monitor the Tribune’s progress and its management."













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Photos courtesy of the sltrib.com and deseretnews.com
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