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Utah Newspaper Project Drops Lawsuit Against Owners of Salt Lake Tribune And Deseret News

Brian Grimmett

With the sale of the Salt Lake Tribune to Paul Huntsman being finalized, the Utah Newspaper Project has dropped their federal anti-trust lawsuit.

The Utah Newspaper Project was challenging changes made in 2013 to the Joint Operating Agreement between the owners of the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News That deal cut the amount of revenue the Tribune shared with the Deseret News from 58% to 30%. It also gave the Deseret News management a considerable amount of say in any ownership changes at the Tribune.

Utah Newspaper Project board member Joan O’Brien says before deciding to drop the lawsuit, her group carefully scrutinized the new deal and new Tribune owner Paul Huntsman.

“You know, we’ve got a benevolent local owner who is going to work with the Deseret News, who’s committed to the strong, independent voice of the Tribune," she says. "We think it’s the best possible outcome given the circumstances.”

Under the newly negotiated JOA, the Tribune will receive 40% of the revenue from the print operations. And while the JOA still requires Deseret News management to consent to any future sale of the Tribune, they must give that consent if a reasonable offer has been made.

Kara Porter is one of the attorneys for the Utah Newspaper Project. She says their lawsuit played a major role in determining the details of the sale of the Tribune.

“Not only did it stabilize the Tribune during the lawsuit, but the two problems that we identified in the lawsuit were alleviated in the sale. So, these guys saved the Tribune,” she says.

With the sale complete, the Department of Justice has also closed their investigation into the JOA. 

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