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Dispatch's Former Owner Want Protection From Legal Fight With Subscribers

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The former owner of The Columbus Dispatch, the Dispatch Printing Company, has entered the legal battle over whether or not the paper engaged in deceptive business practices.

In August, two subscribers sued the paper’s current owner GateHouse Media, arguing they were unfairly charged for unrequested special sections of the paper.

Dispatch Printing, owned by the Wolfe family, sold the paper to Gatehouse Media in 2015. The Wolfe’s want the court to rule that they aren’t liable for the subscribers' lawsuit, or any others, brought against the paper.

The lawsuit from Dispatch subscribers John Ewalt and Steve Wylie says GateHouse puts unsolicited “premium” content inside subscribers' papers. The suit says the paper then decreases the length of those subscriptions based on the determined value of those premium editions.

“In most instances," the suit reads, "these so-called premium editions have no connection to the subscriptions to The Dispatch—the item for which those customers agreed to pay—and are all but worthless.”

Examples listed in the lawsuit include a cook book, calendar, health guide and a dog magazine.

GateHouse’s policy on "premium content" is listed on the Dispatch website and in print editions, but the lawsuit claims "to reduce the likelihood that its customers would notice charges for premium editions, GateHouse does not separately bill customers for those premium editions. Rather… Gatehouse reduces the length of its customers’ subscriptions based on the arbitrary value that GateHouse assigns to these premium editions."