Judge Hears Opening Statements in Bay Guardian/VVM Trial

january 30, 2008  08:17 am
Yesterday, both sides in the predatory-pricing suit filed by the Guardian against SF Weekly and Village Voice Media gave their opening arguments, and Guardian associate publisher Jean Dibble took the stand. The local website Beyond Chron lays out the plaintiff's burden: "The Guardian will have to prove four things: (1) the SF Weekly sold ads below cost; (2) the Guardian was harmed; (3) the harm was due in large part to the fact that the Weekly sold ads below cost; and (4) the SF Weekly's purpose in selling the ads below cost was to cause harm to the Guardian." The Guardian's attorney argued that the Weekly has lost money for 11 straight years (a claim the defendants contest) as a direct result of selling ads below cost, and that it was selling at that rate with the express intent of damaging the Guardian. "If you're not trying to make a profit, what are you trying to do?," the Guardian reports he asked the jury. The Weekly's attorney argued that, yes, the paper has been selling ads below cost, but to cope with a tough regional economy and competition from the internet, not to put its competitor out of business. "The reason we were selling below cost is because that is all we could get for the ads," he told the jury, according to the Weekly's dispatch. The trial resumes this morning.