Readers File Suit to Keep Honolulu Newspaper Open

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - One of Honolulu, Hawaii's two daily newspapers is the object of a lawsuit filed in US District Court Wednesday by both newspaper subscribers and readers in hopes of blocking the shutdown of the paper.

The group, Save Our Star Bulletin (SOS) is charging that closing the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is illegal and violates both federal and state anti-trust laws. The group is seeking a permanent injunction against the shutdown and wants the federal court to bar Star-Bulletin owner Rupert Phillips and his company, Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership from closing the Star-Bulletin in exchange for $30 million from the Gannet Company, which owns the Honolulu Advertiser, the Star-Bulletin's competing paper.

The Save Our Star group said Wednesday they are being assisted by the Newspaper Guild union, which represents Star-Bulletin employees as well as community leaders and activists, former elected officials and advertisers.

The group's complaint filed with the court notes, "There is a dangerous probability that the Advertiser and Gannett will obtain a monopoly in the market for daily newspapers unless this action is blocked." Liberty has announced it intends to shut down the Star-Bulletin on October 30th.

The two newspapers have been publishing jointly since 1962. The joint operating agreement was revised in 1993 and scheduled to remain in effect until 2012. The Star-Bulletin was owned by Gannett until 1993 when the chain sold it to Liberty it to acquire the Advertiser.

The two newspapers are the only general circulation daily newspapers serving the Hawaiian island of Oahu, known locally as "the big island". The papers also account for more than 70 percent of all daily and Sunday newspapers published and sold in Hawaii.