TORONTO -- The Competition Bureau says it has obtained a court order to interview current and former Torstar Corp. employees as part of its investigation into a deal between the company and Postmedia Network Canada Corp.

The bureau said Tuesday that the order granted by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice requires one former and five current employees to be interviewed under oath by its investigators.

The federal competition watchdog has alleged in court documents that the two media companies conspired in their deal to swap newspapers that resulted in the closure of dozens of mostly community publications.

The court documents, filed in March, claimed the companies conspired to agree to divide up sales, territories, customers or markets for advertising or flyer distribution in certain regions.

Torstar said in a statement Tuesday that it has been clear in its position that the transaction was conducted legally, ethically and in the long-term interest of all the markets it serves.

"We entered into this transaction to help Torstar chart a course toward a sustainable future in an effort to provide our readers with access to informative and relevant news coverage for years to come. The bureau's investigation has unfortunately created new costs and difficulties at a time when our industry is fighting for its survival."

The company said it expects employees in question to respectfully co-operate with the bureau.

Postmedia has also said it does not believe it contravened the Competition Act and is co-operating with the investigation.

The Competition Bureau said there has been no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time and no charges have been laid.

---

Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with subsidiaries of the Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse.