'Pro-competition collaboration'

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By G.W. Schulz

Real estate mogul Clint Reilly's attempt to stop a major media buyout involving MediaNews and the Hearst Corp. turned a corner earlier this week when Reilly's attorney, Joe Alioto, asked a federal judge for a temporary restraining order to stop certain business activities taking place at both companies that could change the dimensions of the Bay Area newspaper establishment.

Alioto fears that if changes at several of the local daily papers become too significant, no decision made during trial could turn them back, including recently announced job cuts at the papers. The judge has yet to rule, but a decision will likely to be handed down by Monday.

The hearing on Thursday devolved at times into a heated exchange between Alioto and the Hearst attorney, Daniel Wall. Alioto says an April letter confirms that Hearst and MediaNews have been discussing the possibility of combining some circulation and ad functions. Wall fired back that the San Francisco Chronicle is bleeding millions of dollars annually and the only way to save it is to reduce costs through "pro-competition collaboration."

More on this soon.

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