Utah Attorney General’s Office investigating agreement between Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune

Posted at 9:51 PM, Jun 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-21 22:13:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into the joint operating agreement between the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

Missy Larsen, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, confirmed to FOX 13 News Friday that they had an open investigation regarding the agreement between the two entities, and on Saturday the office released a statement in a press release.

“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 stated in the release. “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.”

According to the press release, the investigation is being conducted by a newly formed Markets and Financial Fraud Division.

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

The statement concluded with: “An investigation in and of itself does not indicate wrongdoing has occurred. [It] can be a mechanism to bring to light bad conduct or validate proper conduct.”

A lawsuit filed by the group Citizens for Two Voices alleges the agreement violates antitrust laws and will put the Tribune out of business. The Department of Justice is also investigating the joint operating agreement.

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