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    NEW YORK, Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- After four years of litigation which reached the United States Supreme Court, The New York Times Company (AMEX: NYT.A), the Open Housing Center, Inc. and four individual plaintiffs today announced that they have entered into a Consent Decree to conclude the federal court action entitled Ragin et. al. v. The New York Times Company, 89 Civ. 0228 (CSH).
    The action was filed on Jan. 12, 1989 and alleged, among other things, that The New York Times violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a longstanding and continuing practice of publishing racially discriminatory advertisements for housing because the ads used white human models almost exclusively and did not contain the equal housing opportunity logotype.  The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 and prohibits the publication of any real estate advertisement "that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination." The complaint specifically alleged that since the passage of the Act The Times has published thousands of display ads in its real estate sections and virtually none of the models featured in those ads were black despite the fact that a significant portion of the New York City metropolitan area is black.  The plaintiffs in this action, Luther M. Ragin, Jr., Dr. Deborah Fish Ragin, Dr. Jerome F. Cuyler, and Renaye Cuyler, Esq. are four black professionals who were engaged in a search for housing, and the Open Housing Center Inc., a not-for-profit fair housing organization in New York City involved in eliminating discriminatory housing practices.
    As it has throughout the case, The Times denied any fault or liability in its answer to the complaint and in the Consent Decree.  The Times said that the advertisements at issue were created, produced and submitted by third-party advertising agencies and real estate developers and that The Times merely published the advertisements as submitted.
    The Consent Decree reaffirms the parties' commitment to equal housing opportunity and real estate advertising which is free from any message of racial exclusion.  The Consent Decree provides, among other things, that The Times will not accept real estate advertising that conveys, through the use of human models or otherwise, discriminatory messages.  The Times has adopted the following general policy for accepting residential real estate advertising where the advertising includes human models: the models used in advertisements for any given  building or complex must be clearly identifiable as reasonably representing majority and minority groups in the greater New York City metropolitan area (as defined in the Consent Decree), including that area's black population so that the models employed convey a message of general inclusiveness of all persons regardless of race or color.  The census figures reflect that the population of the greater New York City metropolitan area is approximately 70 percent white, 20 percent black and 10 percent other.  The specifics of this policy are set forth in The Times' revised Standards of Advertising Acceptability.  Real estate advertisements which fail to conform to The Times' revised policy will be rejected.
    The Times will publicize its policy in the newspaper, by letters to advertisers and other publishers, and at a meeting it will co-sponsor with the Open Housing Center.  The Times also will pay the plaintiffs $150,000 and will provide the Open Housing Center with substantial advertising space valued at approximately $300,000 for advertisements supporting equal housing opportunity.  The Ragins and the Cuylers have donated their portions of the settlement payment to the Open Housing Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to support their local and national fair housing efforts.
    The plaintiffs were represented pro bono by Shearman & Sterling and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  The New York Times was represented by its legal department.  Inquiries regarding the Consent Decree may be addressed to Kathleen M. Comfrey of Shearman & Sterling (212 848-4000), Kerry Alan Scanlon of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (202-682-1300), Phyllis Spiro of the Open Housing Center (212-941-6101) and Nancy Nielsen, vice president of corporate communications, The New York Times Company (212-556-4317).
    -0-             08/13/93
    CONTACT:  Nancy Nielsen, 212-556-4317, or William Adler, 212-556-4317, both of The New York Times CO:  NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY; OPEN HOUSING CENTER, INC. IN:  PUB ST:  NY

-- NY053 -- X667 08/13/93
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 13, 1993

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