The New York Times Company's bid to buy a stake in a Boston free newspaper has come under fire from a rival publisher.

Boston Herald supremo Patrick Purcell accuses the NYTC, owner of the Boston Globe, of being anticompetitive with its plan to acquire 49% of Metro Boston for $16.5 million (€12.2m, £8.6m) [WAMN: 5-Jan-2005].

He pledges to "contest this on grounds that the largest newspaper in Eastern Massachusetts is making an in-market acquisition that does not meet Justice Department standards."

The free daily, published by Metro USA, claims a readership of 300,000 and is aimed squarely at young commuters, many of whom do not otherwise look at newspapers.

The deal will provide opportunities for cross selling and cross promotions between the Globe and Metro but, says Metro USA president Steve Nylund, it does not violate competition regulations.

Adds antitrust lawyer Bill Patton: "Antitrust laws are intended to protect competition, not competitors." Patton said the Herald would have to show the NYTC's stake in Boston Metro would "injure competition" in the local market.

Boston Globe publisher Richard Gilman defends the proposed partnership: "The Metro is a single free newspaper in the Boston media market, which has 18 paid daily newspapers. In addition, there are a considerable number of free weekly newspapers including the many owned by Herald Media Co. This may well be the most competitive newspaper market in the country."

Data sourced from Boston Globe(USA); additional content by WARC staff