AG’s office investigates Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune allegations

SALT LAKE CITY – Saturday, the Utah Attorney General’s Office confirmed it is investigating circumstances surrounding a recent amendment of the joint operating agreement between the owners of the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.

The new agreement between the two entities, which went into effect in January, substantially cut the Tribune’s revenues from the operating partnership between the two papers, also selling the Tribune’s share in printing facilities and giving control of the two newspapers’ joint operations to the Deseret News. A lawsuit was filed Monday by the group Citizens for Two Voices claiming the agreement violates antitrust laws and asking that financial dealings between the two newspaper be halted.

“I believe in the value of diverse editorial viewpoints and independent news-gathering for an informed citizenry, and I asked our antitrust lawyers to investigate the circumstances surrounding the change to the Joint Operating Agreement,” Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a press release Saturday. “We are not trying to duplicate or interfere with the DOJ investigation as it pertains to any area where they have statutory jurisdiction. But, there may be areas of concern outside of or concurrent with that scope, and we have an obligation to look at them more closely.”

The newly formed Markets and Financial Fraud Division is conducting the investigation.

“We recognize that the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 authorizes the United States Attorney General to review and approve Joint Operating Agreements between newspapers,” Division Director David Sonnenreich said, as quoted in the press release, “but the state still has an independent interest in investigating and enforcing our antitrust laws outside of the scope of that federal review.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office emphasized that conducting an investigation does not mean wrongdoing has occurred; an investigation can serve to uncover misconduct or validate proper conduct.

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1 Comment

  • My Bet June 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    My bet is that the Utah Attorney General office will side on behalf of the paper with the most affiliation with a church. Just a gut feeling with that.

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