FTC investigates Hokkaido newspaper

The Fair Trade Commission visited the headquarters and Hakodate bureau of The Hokkaido Shimbun on Mar. 18 and questioned company officials about a possible violation of the Antimonopoly Law.

The Hokkaido Shimbun, the biggest paper in the prefecture, was reported to the commission on Jan. 23 by a new evening paper in Hakodate, called the Hakodate Shimbun, for allegedly hindering the new paper from starting up. According to the Hakodate Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun took out copyrights on nine possible newspaper names in October 1994 after the new paper plan was first suggested, leaving little choice for the newcomer.

The evening paper also accused The Hokkaido Shimbun of encouraging six related companies, including paper supply companies, news services and television stations, not to cooperate with the Hakodate Shimbun. The Hokkaido Shimbun, which has claimed that its decision to copyright nine names was a mere coincidence, said it hopes the investigation clears them of all suspicions.