A judge tentatively ruled yesterday that the San Francisco Bay Guardian can take up to 50 percent of the SF Weekly’s advertising revenues in a move that threatens the future viability of the Weekly. If the judge affirms the ruling after a hearing today, then Village Voice Media, the Weekly’s parent company, will surely appeal. But if they fail in that effort, it could eventually force the Weekly to shut down.
The judge’s tentative ruling stems from a $15.6 million judgment that the Guardian won against the Weekly in superior court. A San Francisco jury ruled that the Weekly sold ads at below cost in an effort to drive the Guardian out of business. The Weekly has appealed that decision, but has not posted a multi-million-dollar bond as required by law. As a result, the Guardian has been going after the Weekly’s assets in an effort to start collecting on the judgment, which has ballooned to more than $20 million because of interest. Previously, a judge ruled that the Guardian could confiscate two of the Weekly’s delivery trucks and take rent that the Weekly collects from a subtenant.
The judge’s tentative ruling would allow the Guardian to collect up to half of the Weekly’s revenues from both print and online advertising. The Express was owned by Village Voice Media chain before we went independent in May 2007.