The Committee For a Two-Newspaper Town today announced it is dropping its current legal challenge to the new Times/P-I Joint Operating Agreement and, for the time being, fading into the background. But CTNT said it could resume its court fight "if it turns out that that the newspapers, who have withheld information about their recent settlement, do not intend to maintain the separate editorial voices that have served Seattle well..." The full announcement after the jump:
The Committee For a Two-Newspaper Town remains committed to its mission of preserving independent daily newspapers in Seattle. CTNT is voluntarily withdrawing its 2003 complaint against the Seattle Times and Hearst. If it turns out that the newspapers, who have withheld information about their recent settlement, do not intend to maintain the separate editorial voices that have served Seattle well, CTNT stands ready to represent the interests of readers as needed.
CTNT is pleased that the newspapers say they have abandoned the odious payoff clause that was challenged in CTNT's complaint. "We feel we have accomplished a great deal by exposing the illegality of the newspapers' 1999 plan to pay Hearst to close the P-I," said CTNT Co-chair Anne Bremner.
CTNT will hold the newspapers to their word that there are no undisclosed agreements that would violate the state Constitution. "Our vigilance is designed to ensure that the agreement achieved by these news organizations in a secret proceeding will actually result in the preservation of both papers," said CTNT Co-Chair Phil Talmadge, a former State Supreme Court justice and former state senator.
Meanwhile, CTNT will defend the public's right to know about the state Attorney General's antitrust investigation of the newspapers' joint operations. Like the Seattle newspapers, Attorney General Rob McKenna has advocated for open government. CTNT's efforts to uphold open-government principles are consistent with its overall mission to promote a vigorous public discussion of issues important to the Seattle area.