The corporation that owns the Reno Gazette-Journal is the subject of an anti-trust investigation in the Midwest.
The Wall Street Journal last month revealed that the U.S. Justice Department was probing Gannett’s attempt to acquire Hometown Communications Network, Inc.
Hometown is in a studied stance of nonchalance. “I’m not concerned at all,” Hometown president Richard Aginian told the Ann Arbor News. “There’s a great deal of precedent. They’ve approved many [similar] deals in the past.”
In a Jan. 25 internal memo to staff members posted on the Poynter Institute journalism site, Hometown executives Aginian and Phil Power dismissed the anti-trust probe as unimportant.
“This is standard practice and nothing new; the Hart, Scott, Rodino Act requires the Department to review any transaction of this size to determine whether it’s anti-competitive. There’s nothing unusual or new about what’s going on, other than it’s recently become a news story.”
However, industry analyst Edward Atorino told the Journal he was surprised that the Justice Department was bothering with such a small deal. Hometown, headquartered in Livonia, Mich., owns 59 publications, including a daily, weeklies, twice weeklies, shoppers and telephone directories.
Gannett’s predatory practices (the subject of the 1996 book The Chain Gang by Richard McCord) have often drawn legal notice, including at least one criminal conviction for the corporation.