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New York – GateHouse and Gannett say their newspaper deal has cleared U.S. antitrust review. It still needs approval from European regulators and stockholders of both companies. The two say they expect the deal to close this year.

USA Today and Detroit Free Press owner Gannett and GateHouse argue that combining will help them accelerate the path to digital for their newspapers even as they pay down debt from the deal. The combination would create the largest U.S. newspaper company in a contracting industry, with more than 260 daily papers in the U.S. and more than 300 weeklies.

Getting bigger would allow the combined company to trim costs by centralizing operations, but also by cutting newsroom jobs. Community members complain that will affect local coverage.

GateHouse has continued to lay off journalists since announcing the takeover.

The Detroit Free Press has a partnership with MediaNews Group, owner of The Detroit News, to combine business operations of the two newspapers. The newsrooms remain separately owned and independent.

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