Joint operating agreement

From Academic Kids

A joint operating agreement (JOA) in the sense of this article is an arrangment whereby two daily newspapers published in the same city or geographic area find it convenient to operate certain business aspects together. Such agreements were authorized by Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 and are thus not considered to be violative of antitrust laws. The legalization of these agreements stemmed from the fact that the alternative is usually for at least one of the newspapers, generally the one published in the evening, to cease operations altogether.

The first joint operating agreement was between The Tennessean (then the Nashville Tennessean) and the former Nashville Banner in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937. Their agreement became typical of the type — both papers were printed on the same presses at different times of day. Classified advertising sales were consolidated, as were distribution agents. A joint entity to perform these functions was created, with equal representation on its board from both papers. Newsgathering and editorial operations remained completely separate, although located under one roof in different portions of the same building.

Arrangements similar to this allowed most medium-sized U.S. cities, and some of the larger ones as well, to have two daily newspapers until fairly recently. The number of joint operating agreements, as well as the number of evening-published daily newspapers, has declined considerably in recent years, due to the ongoing consolidation of the newspaper industry as a whole, and the decline in readership and interest in evening newspapers in particular, which many observers have attributed to television, a process which seems to be magnified by the presence of several 24-hour-a-day news operations on cable television.

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