$6 Million Newspaper War in Las Vegas


      LAS VEGAS (CN) – Las Vegas Sun sued the owners of Las Vegas Review Journal for $6 million, claiming its bigger rival owes the money from a 1989 joint operating agreement that was amended in 2005.
     The Sun claims that DR Partners dba Stephens Media, which owns and publishes the Review Journal, agreed to continue printing and promoting the Sun. The JOA required Stephens Media to “fund and execute payments to all costs” not related to the Sun’s news and editorial departments, according to the March 10 lawsuit in Clark County Court.
     The 1989 JOA shared the costs of running the news and editorial departments at both newspapers, but the Sun says the amended agreement in 2005 requires the Sun and Review Journal each to “‘bear their own respective editorial costs.'”
     The Sun claims the amended agreement requires each newspaper to establish appropriate budgets and “‘maintain a staff of news and editorial employees.'”
     Before the amended agreement was made in 2005, the Sun says, the newspapers shared the costs of their respective news and editorial departments, based upon a “specified allocation formula.”
     The Sun claims the 2005 amended agreement separates the editorial costs and requires Stephens Media to make an annual profits payment in 12 monthly installments to the Sun.
     In 2005, the Sun says, that annual profits payment was $12 million, and the annual payment is the newspaper’s only source of revenue.
     Despite the amended JOA, the Sun says, a portion of the Review Journal’s editorial costs since 2005 have been deducted from the Sun’s annual profits payment.
     It claims that “by including the LVRJ’s editorial costs in the total operational costs” Stephens Media “has improperly reduced the sum owed to Las Vegas Sun Inc.” and caused the Sun to “underwrite the LVRJ’s newsroom costs in defiance” of the amended joint operating agreement.
     As a result, the Sun says, its annual profits payments have been reduced by at least $6 million since 2005.
     The Sun accuses Stephens Media of breach of contract and seeks declaratory judgment that the Review Journal’s editorial costs can’t be factored into the profits payments. It also seeks payment of outstanding annual profits plus interest since 2005, plus attorney’s fees and legal costs.
     A representative for Stephens Media was not immediately available for comment.

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