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Judge denies new hearing in Vegas newspaper battle

Ken Ritter, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The time isn't right for another hearing on an effort by the editor-publisher of the Las Vegas Sun to block buyout attempts by the corporate owners of the rival Las Vegas Review-Journal, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan issued an order Wednesday saying little has changed since he ruled Sept. 6 that there was no definitive contract. He said the fact that three Greenspun siblings signed a nonbinding letter of intent Sept. 10 didn't make the matter ripe for review.

"The court is unpersuaded," the judge said.

Sun Editor-Publisher Brian Greenspun opposes the deal. His attorney, Joseph Alioto of San Francisco, didn't immediately respond Thursday to messages from The Associated Press.

Alioto told the Sun he planned to appeal Mahan's ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stephens Media lawyer Don Campbell of Las Vegas said he was "somewhat mystified" by the request for a rehearing, and wasn't surprised by the judge's ruling.

Three Greenspun family business trustees — Danny Greenspun, Susan Greenspun Fine and Janie Greenspun Gale — have endorsed a Stephens Media LLC offer to buy the Sun from Greenspun Corp. and Las Vegas Sun Inc.

Brian Greenspun has vowed not to give up the newspaper his father founded in 1950.

The letter of intent says the deal could be done by the end of the year.

A sale would end publication of the Sun newspaper, which is distributed as a six- to 10-page daily section within the Review-Journal.

The Stephens Media website lasvegas.com would go to Greenspun companies that already control the travel booking website Vegas.com.

Greenspun would keep ownership of the lasvegassun.com news website.

Campbell and attorney Gordon Lang in Washington, D.C., for Stephens Media, deny the buyout would give the Review-Journal a monopoly. They argue that the Sun website could continue to operate and provide an alternate editorial voice in the Las Vegas market.

Greenspun attorneys argue that the Sun news website couldn't survive without revenues from the print operation, and that survival of one of six remaining federally overseen joint newspaper operating agreements in the U.S. is at stake.

U.S. Justice Department officials have said they were monitoring the developments in Las Vegas.

In a separate development, Greenspun attorneys Leif Reid, Darren Lemieux and Tara Zimmerman of Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP in Reno, filed documents this week seeking to withdraw from the case.

Hank Greenspun died in 1989, the same year Sun and Review-Journal owners entered into a 50-year joint operating agreement that left the rival newspapers with separate editorial staffs, but combined advertising, printing and distribution handled by the Review-Journal.

The agreement is scheduled to run through 2039.


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