Ruling Allows A.M. Newspaper Edition
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A federal judge Monday cleared the way for the afternoon Deseret News to move to morning publication, ruling that pending legal action cannot stop it from purchasing a new printing press with partner MediaNews Group Inc.
The Deseret News and MediaNews-owned Salt Lake Tribune, which coexist in the same market and have shared a joint operating agreement for five decades, had been handcuffed by a legal challenge from the McCarthey family, the Tribune’s former owners.
The McCartheys gave up ownership of the state’s largest morning daily in 1997 for a lucrative stock swap with another company, and are trying to enforce a disputed option to buy it back.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart lifted restrictions that had barred substantial changes to the Tribune’s assets and the two papers’ joint operating agreement while the suit runs its course. He said the injunctions were stalling the newspapers’ operation.
The McCarthey family’s plan to repurchase the Tribune was blocked last summer by the Deseret News, which vetoed the sale and instead allowed MediaNews Group to buy the paper.
The McCartheys challenged that veto power, but Stewart ruled against them. Lawyers for the family are seeking to overturn that decision at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was expected to take months to decide.
Deseret News attorney David Jordan accused the McCartheys of requesting the injunctions purposely to stall the Deseret News’ move to morning publication.
Tribune Publishing opposed the motion to lift the injunctions, saying it would alter the status quo while they appeal. Attorney Gary Bendinger said the motion by MediaNews and the Deseret News is ``based on a fiction that we will never get legal ownership of the paper.″
Stewart set a Nov. 3 court date for all remaining issues.