CHARLESTON – The U.S. Attorney's office has asked U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver to approve a settlement ending Gazette ownership of the Daily Mail.
In a motion for final judgment on May 26, now former U.S. Attorney Charles Miller wrote that he received no public comment on a pending resolution of antitrust charges against the dailies.
"The public, including affected newspaper advertisers and readers, has had the opportunity to comment on the proposed final judgment as required by law," he wrote.
"The proposed final judgment is within the range of settlements consistent with the public interest," he wrote.
In January, the dailies and the government reached an agreement calling for the Gazette to sell the Daily Mail to previous owner Media News Group.
The government sued the dailies in 2007, claiming the Gazette's $55 million purchase of the Daily Mail in 2004 violated the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act.
Antitrust enforcers claimed the Gazette tried to run the Daily Mail into the ground.
They found it suspicious that the Daily Mail quit publishing on Saturdays, didn't replace reporters who left, ended promotions, and stopped daily delivery for thousands.
They pointed out that circulation fell from 35,076 to 23,985 in less than a year.
The dailies moved to dismiss the suit. Copenhaver denied the motion in 2008, ruling that the government raised issues worthy of discovery.
He set trial for last October, but delayed it to this April at the request of all parties.
The government and the dailies chose to end the dispute without trial.
In the settlement agreement, assistant U. S. Attorney Stephen Horn wrote that competition between the dailies benefited readers and advertisers.
He gave the government credit for interrupting the plan before the Gazette shifted more resources away from the Daily Mail.
The dailies can resume a joint operating agreement that lasted from 1958 to 2004. Five managers in a limited partnership will run the joint operation.
Neither daily can take any action to influence the content of the other.
The agreement specifies that at least 32 persons will work in the Daily Mail newsroom.