With consumers today having a multitude of media choices for news and information, competition among media for readers and advertising revenues is robust. Newspapers utilize various business models to become more competitive in the marketplace. For example, the Newspaper Preservation Act (NPA) permits newspapers in the same city to enter joint operating arrangements (JOAs) – combining business operations – when one of the participants is in probable danger of financial failure. The Act has sustained competition by enabling JOA newspapers to maintain the ability to publish separate and editorially independent publications by combining their business operations (printing, distribution, and advertising and subscription sales) into a single enterprise.
Federal antitrust laws address the competitive implications of conduct involving intellectual property (IP). Newspapers have been on the receiving end of licenses when, for example, the issuance of press credentials is conditioned upon the acceptance of a license from organizations asserting IP ownership in the display of certain sporting or entertainment events, or in the "brand" of a sports team or performer. Although courts have viewed licensing generally as procompetitive, they typically analyze licensing arrangements under the Rule of Reason. Courts and the Department of Justice consider antitrust law and IP law as complementary since they both are intended to encourage innovation and competition.
Besides JOAs and licensing IP, newspapers engage in other joint venture activities – some with non-newspaper entities – to gain efficiencies in creating and distributing news. These ventures may involve sharing online content, advertising, and technology or providing a centralized licensing mechanism for participating publishers to obtain fair compensation from third-party users of their online content.
July 27, 2010
On July 19, 2010, the federal district court in Charleston, West Virginia entered its Final Judgment approving the parties’ settlement in U.S. v. Daily Gazette Company and MediaNews Group. The Judgment gives the parties five business days to execute new agreements that supersede and void the May 2004 transactions that were the subject of the federal government’s complaint, filed on May 22, 2007.
June 02, 2010
The U.S. Supreme Court in American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, et. al. has held the NFL is not a single enterprise for purposes of Section 1 of the Sherman Act and thus, its licensing of the intellectual property of its member football teams constitutes concerted action. The court; however, did not address the question of whether the action unreasonably restrains trade, but determined the legality of that concerted action must be judged under the Rule of Reason.