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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 19, 2010

Sen. Inouye to ask for antitrust review of Star-Bulletin sale

BY Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye plans to send a letter to the U.S. Justice Department urging a careful review of the sale of the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Star-Bulletin owner David Black is selling the state's No. 2 newspaper to satisfy Justice Department's review of his purchase of the larger Advertiser.

Peter Boylan, spokesman for Inouye, said the senator wants to ensure that the Justice Department's scrutiny of the sale of the newspaper deals is in accord with antitrust laws.

"The sale of these properties could leave hundreds of workers and their families without a job and every effort needs to be made to ensure the transaction is above board," Boylan said in an e-mail.

Star-Bulletin Publisher Dennis Francis could not be reached for comment today.

Inouye agreed to send the letter to Justice officials after meeting recently with Wayne Cahill, administrative officer of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, and Suzanne Roig, the Guild's president.

Cahill said today that the union is worried that Black's purchase of the 115,000-circulation Advertiser and its nondaily publications, combined with his ownership of MidWeek, which reaches more than 270,000 readers a week, will give him a monopoly in the newspaper advertising business.

The guild also is concerned by the short amount of time in which Black is offering to sell the Star-Bulletin.

Under the sales procedure approved by the Justice Department, Black agreed to list the newspaper for sale for 14 days.

The process allows bidders another 21 days to provide an initial nonbinding bid and a final bid for the Star-Bulletin.

At least two bidders Texas private equity investor Brian Ferguson and state Sen. Sam Slom and Internet publisher Malia Zimmerman have submitted bids for the Star-Bulletin.

"You can't even sell a car in two weeks," said Cahill.

"How can you sell a newspaper in two weeks?"