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Job Fairs Company Sues L.A. Times on Ad Policy

October 24, 1985|DONALD WOUTAT | Times Staff Writer

A Santa Clara, Calif., firm has sued the Los Angeles Times and its parent, Times Mirror, on antitrust grounds, accusing them of refusing to accept a certain form of advertising because it would compete with The Times' own efforts to sell ads.

Westech ExpoCorp, which produces job fairs, asked the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for an injunction that would require The Times to accept the firm's pre-printed tabloid containing job recruitment ads.

The Times agreed to accept Westech ads that publicize the firm's job fairs but wouldn't accept the pre-printed tabloid section that Westech wanted to be distributed as an insert in Sunday editions.

"We have for over a year been publishing Westech's ads in the classified pages of The Times, but we have a right not to distribute his separate publication," said William A. Niese, vice president and general counsel for the newspaper. "And we are quite confident that the antitrust laws do not require us to distribute his separate publication."

Niese added: "There's also an important First Amendment principle involved here, and that concerns the right of a newspaper to control its own content."

A typical recent tabloid, which Westech calls the most effective form of advertising in terms of attracting people to its jobs fairs, had about 90 job ads from high-technology companies and five articles scattered among its 70 pages. The firm said other newspapers carry the advertising as a separate supplement.

Westech said The Times would realize about $95,000 in ad revenue by carrying the supplement, which would be published several times a year. But the company charged that the newspaper's refusal to accept the tabloid is "an attempt to retain control of the employment-related advertising market."

The complaint, which was filed Oct. 7 but announced at a press conference Wednesday, calls The Times' action a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. It said the newspaper is trying "to prevent others . . . from competing with them to serve the same clients," a reference to the newspaper's own job recruitment ads. The lawsuit said that amounts to a restraint of trade or a monopolistic practice.

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