WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey has freed Affiliated Media to buy the Charleston Daily Mail back from the Charleston Gazette.

On Feb. 15, Carey lifted a stay on a settlement of federal antitrust charges against the Gazette and Affiliated Media, which declared bankruptcy on Jan. 21.

The settlement calls for the dailies to resume a joint operation they started in 1958.

U.S. attorneys claimed in 2007 that the Gazette's purchase of the Daily Mail in 2004 created a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act.

Under Gazette control, the Daily Mail quit publishing on Saturdays. It didn't replace reporters who left. It ended all promotions, discounts, and solicitations of new readers.

Daily delivery stopped for thousands of customers.

The owners tried to lure Daily Mail subscribers to the Gazette subscription list.

In less than a year, Daily Mail circulation fell from 35,076 to 23,985.

Under the settlement Affiliated Media, formerly MediaNews, would take two of five seats on a board of managers overseeing a partnership between the dailies.

Gazette involvement in the Daily Mail newsroom would end.

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