The one in which the federal government accused the owners of News Times L.A.and the L.A. Weeklyof violating antitrust laws by conspiring to divide up markets in L.A. and Cleveland? At last look, prosecutors had declared victory, while the companies admitted no guilt but paid fines. They also submitted to conditions, as part of a settlement, that paved the way for more competition in these two media markets.
In short, the feds think the case is over. So do the newspapers.
But it’s not over for S.M. “Skip” Oliva of Citizens for Voluntary Trade, a Washington, D.C.–based libertarian group. Oliva wants to reopen the case based on his claim that the judge denied adequate time for public comment. Ostensibly, Oliva is taking the side of the newspapers. His group opposes antitrust laws as an abridgment of citizens’ freedom to conduct commerce, and even as a violation of constitutional rights.
In the deal in question, NT Media agreed to shut down New Times L.A., leaving L.A. Weekly as the sole citywide alternative weekly in L.A., while Village Voice Media (the Weekly’s parent) agreed to close its publication in Cleveland, leaving that market to NT’s Cleveland Scene. New Times netted $9 million in the transactions.
When contacted about Oliva’s motion to intervene, one Voice Media executive rolled her eyes and said she expected nothing to come of it, but she quickly added that her reaction was strictly off the record.