Wisconsin publisher to testify during newsprint tariff hearing

Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Wisconsin Free Press Group and president of the WNA Foundation, will testify July 17 during the International Trade Commission‘s hearing on proposed newsprint tariffs. The Wisconsin Free Press Group includes the Campbellsport News, the (Mayville) Dodge County Pionier and the Kewaskum Statesman. Johnson is also vice president of the National Newspaper Association Board of Directors.

He is one of two individuals who will testify in opposition to the tariffs, according to National Newspaper Association Public Policy Director Tonda Rush. The other is Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times and Times Publishing Company.

Preliminary tariffs against Canadian producers of uncoated groundwood paper were first imposed in January and increased in March, prompting an increase in the price of newsprint by more than 30 percent over the last six months.

The investigation was initiated by the North Pacific Paper Co. (NORPAC), a small Washington State mill with no other pulp or paper operations in the United States. NORPAC claims it is a victim of “dumping” or underpricing by Canadian paper producers, which allegedly benefit from unfair government support. In reality, the decline in the U.S. newsprint market is due to a shift over the last decade from print to digital distribution of news and the subsequent closure of operations that produce newsprint.

Final determinations are expected in August by the International Trade Commission, following a July 17 hearing, and in September by the Commerce Department.