March 23, 2009

Pelosi picks up on newspapers’ plight

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has raised the question of antitrust laws as they apply to newspapers, expressing a concern for the struggling industry.

In a recent letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Pelosi said she was writing about the conditions news organizations across the country are experiencing in their efforts to survive.

In the letter, Pelosi said the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy would soon take up the issue of antitrust laws that can prevent newspapers from merging, the Politico reported Monday.

The situation across the industry is dire. With advertising revenues falling as the Internet gains in popularity, various reports say cities are faced with the collapse of one or maybe all of their major daily newspapers.

Seattle recently lost the 146-year old Post-Intelligencer, which switched to an all-Internet publication. Denver lost the Rocky Mountain News. San Francisco, Pelosi's hometown, is in danger of losing the Chronicle, which Hearst Corp. said was losing $50 million a year.

Holder said he had not seen the letter, but said, I think we need to have, as I say, a healthy, vibrant newspaper industry.

I like to think that 20, 30, 40 years from now, people will still be reading newspapers, he said.