Friday, November 26, 2010

Calif. High Court Gives SF Weekly Owner the Golden Gate

San Francisco Bay GuardianImage via WikipediaThe California Supreme Court this week refused to hear the appeal of Village Voice Media Holdings-owned SF Weekly's adverse ruling in the antitrust suit brought by rival weekly Bay Guardian, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (

With only one of the seven-member high court willing to hear the appeal in Bay Guardian v. New Times Media (Case No. S186497), the $21 million judgment against the defendant for attempting to shut down the Bay Guardian by selling its own ad space below cost.  The California Supreme Court rejected the defendant's argument that its low advertising rate constituted legitimate business competition that was a boon to local businesses.

Both the Bay Guardian and SF Weekly are free publications heavily reliant on advertising revenue for their existence. In 2008, a jury found for the homegrown Bay Guardian, awarding $6.2 million in damages against the defendant for illegal predatory pricing (114 Cal. Rptr. 3d 392 (2008)). The verdict was upped to $16 million by the trial judge pursuant to antitrust law penalties, and interest accrued brought the total award to $21 million.  An appeals court subsequently allowed the Bay Guardian to collect half of SF Weekly's ad revenue in partial satisfaction of the judgment.

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