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US judge schedules hearing in Vegas newspaper case

LAS VEGAS — A federal judge in Nevada plans to hear arguments Sept. 6 on a claim by the family publisher of the Las Vegas Sun that the parent company of the Las Vegas Review-Journal is improperly trying to kill their joint operating agreement.

US District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday to keep the newspapers’ current publishing agreement in place past a Sept. 1 date.

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Sun publisher Brian Greenspun alleges in his Aug. 20 civil lawsuit that an offer from Stephens Media LLC to buy out his newspaper and Internet interests violates federal antitrust law and a 1989 joint operating agreement overseen by the Justice Department.

Stephens Media chief executive Mike Ferguson has called Greenspun’s lawsuit meritless and denied Greenspun’s claim that Stephens is trying to form a monopoly.

A Stephens Media buyout offer was accepted Aug. 7 by three of the four trustees of the Greenspun family trust that controls the Sun and its Internet properties. Brian Greenspun voted no.

In his four-page order, Mahan characterized Greenspun as a dissident minority board member of the Greenspun Corp. and Las Vegas Sun Inc.

The judge noted that other US newspapers have ceased publication, and he expressed a reluctance to have the court put in a position to have to oversee continuing Las Vegas newspaper operations.

He said he also wants to determine if the Justice Department or Nevada attorney general can intervene in the case.

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