Bay Guardian vs SF Weekly – jury selection begins today
Newspaper industry folks & curious legal observers alike are gearing up at SF’s Superior Court for the 4 years in the waiting, Bay Guardian Co. vs New Times Media trial, for which jury selection begins this Thursday.
For those not keeping track, Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann contends that for years “predatory” ad pricing practices from New Times owned SF Weekly & it’s then sister paper The East Bay Express were designed to put the Guardian at a disadvantage. No one likely doubts that the SF Weekly & Bay Guardian have a rivalry, but the question is, was the wealthier New Times chain operating within the law?
New Times ( founded in Phoenix Az and now also merged with Village Voice & LA Weekly as well as over a dozen other newsweeklies nationwide), have dismissed the claims made by Brugmann, and counter that he is just a feeble businessman unable to meet market demands.
Who Do You Love/Loathe?
leave yer answers in the comments after the jump…
Many people do not know that Brugmann, who started his venerable “alternative” weekly paper in 1966, was previously able to win a $500,000 settlement against the Chron-Ex’s monopoly “San Francisco Newspaper Agency” back in 1970.
The statute Brugmann’s lawyers say their current case hinges on is California’s Business and Professions code 17043 which makes it unlawful
“to sell any article or product at less than the cost therof to such vendor, or to give away any article or product, for the purpose of injuring competitors or destroying competition”.
Recently the locally based free daily newsprint paper The SF Daily, without specifically naming names, accused a rival chain owned paper of a similar ad pricing situation. One would have to assume their nemesis is the Philip Anschutz owned Examiner offshoot called “The Star”. The publishers are saying that their corporate rivals are selling ad space at “below cost”, which according to Guardian lawyers is against the law, and easily computed.
Ralph Alldrege, one of Brugmann’s lawyers told the Daily Journal
” All you do is take all of their costs and divide that by the number of inches of advertising space they sold. That tells you how much the cost is per inch. Whenever they sell below that cost, under California law, they’ve committed a violation”
Supposedly if the New Times were found with even one violation of this unique California Business Code’s Unfair Practices Act, the defendant’s unfair intent is presumed.
Who do you think is right?