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Halt To Transit Tabloid Rejected

February 4, 2000

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A federal judge has denied the request of three newspaper publishers to stop the city’s transit authority from distributing a free daily tabloid at locations where other publications cannot be sold.

In denying the request for an injunction, U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly ruled that Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., The New York Times and Gannett Satellite Information Network Inc. have failed to show that Metro has caused them ``immediate and irreparable harm.″

The newspapers publishers said they will appeal the decision.

Kelly, who on Jan. 24 refused to issue a temporary restraining order, ruled Wednesday that an injunction to stop the distribution of the 2-week-old newspaper would hurt the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and its contractual obligations with the tabloid and its parent company, TPI Metro PA.

SEPTA’s contract states commuters will receive ``an objective and nonpartisan newspaper″ but also says ``each issue should provide SEPTA with significant editorial coverage and must conform to SEPTA’s editorial standards for content.″

The publishers maintain that SEPTA is violating the First Amendment because it is a government agency that is giving a market advantage to what amounts to its own publication and denying the same right to privately owned newspapers.

Metro is distributed aboard buses and on subway and train platforms, where other papers are not permitted.

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