Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Weekly Gets Tough with Daily

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Weekly Gets Tough with Daily

Article excerpt

THE PUBLISHER OF an alternative weekly newspaper in Nashville has put one of the market's major dailies on notice that he will take action against it if it begins selling advertising below cost.

Albie Del Favero, publisher of the Nashville Scene, claims the Gannett-owned Tennessean, combined with other newspapers in the area that Gannett recently acquired, has given the chain a dominance of the print ad market.

Del Favero said that the Tennessean and the independently owned Nashville Banner operate under a Joint Operating Agreement, which permits them to sell advertising together. Gannett also recently acquired the Multimedia chain, which included the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, the Hendersonville Star News, the Gallatin News-Examiner, and other weeklies and shoppers which form a ring around Nashville.

"Despite controlling roughly 75% of the print advertising dollars in the eight-county MSA, the Justice Department didn't require Gannett to sell off the Multimedia properties before approving the acquisition," Del Favero said. "Even though Gannett's market position is even stronger now as a result of the acquisition, the Tennessean finds it necessary to offer cut-rate deals to advertisers in the Scene and other small publications in an attempt to take an even larger share of a limited pie," he added.

Tennessean publisher Craig Moon did not return E&P calls for comment, but was quoted in the Scene as saying his paper is doing nothing illegal.

Last fall, Del Favero sent out a letter to dozens of area businesses explaining his accusations, along with the book, The Chain Gang: One Newspaper Versus the Gannett Empire, by Richard McCord.

"The enclosed book should be reading for all Nashville print advertisers," Del Favero wrote."This book is about the immeasurably voracious corporate greed that inspired fraud, price-fixing, and several allegations of antitrust violations by Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain and owner of the Tennessean. The Chain Gang tells the story of how Gannett, obsessed with market dominance, ran a small weekly competitor out of business in Salem, Ore., and the questionable business practices it employed in the process. It also details the company's attempts to dominate other markets, even those where it already enjoyed monopoly status, and chronicles one man's fight to save his own weekly and a struggling small daily in Green Bay, Wis. …

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