- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he is open to re-examining government antitrust policies that limit mergers in the struggling newspaper industry.

Holder spoke fondly of the place of newspapers in American life when asked about a recent request from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to consider changing the Justice Department’s antitrust policy toward newspaper mergers.

“I think it’s important for this nation to maintain a healthy newspaper industry, so to the extent that we have to look at our enforcement policies and conform them to the reality that the industry faces, that’s something I’m going to be willing to do,” Holder said.

Justice Department lawyers have in the past looked askance at some newspaper mergers that created monopolies within a specific city or region.

As more newspaper companies slash staff, file for bankruptcy and otherwise suffer under an exodus of readers and advertisers to the Internet, calls are increasing for the government to change how it views such deals.

Pelosi sent a letter to Holder earlier this week asking him to review the policy toward newspapers in particular. Holder said he had not read the letter yet, but was sympathetic.

“I’d like to think that 20, 30, 40 years from now people will still be reading newspapers,” Holder said.

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