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US: Delrahim warns against TV Station ad info sharing

 |  November 19, 2018

On Thursday, November 15, Justice Department antitrust chief Makan Delrahim reminded businesses, broadcast and otherwise,  that “agreements between competitors to exchange competitively sensitive information can violate the antitrust laws and lead to a civil enforcement action even if the conduct does not amount to the type of hard-core cartel conduct that the Antitrust Division prosecutes criminally.”

“We uncovered this conduct during our investigation into Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media Company, which has since been abandoned.

As we allege in the complaint, the defendants agreed in local broadcasting markets throughout the United States to exchange revenue pacing information and other competitively sensitive information.  “Pacing” compares a broadcast station’s revenues booked for a certain time period to the revenues booked in the same point in the previous year. Pacing indicates how each station is performing versus the rest of the market and provides insight into each station’s remaining spot advertising for the period.

We discovered that the defendants had been exchanging pacing information either directly between stations or corporate headquarters, or indirectly through national representatives that help local stations sell advertisements to national advertisers.  By exchanging this information, the broadcasters were better able to anticipate whether their competitors were likely to raise, maintain, or lower spot advertising prices, which in turn helped inform the stations’ own pricing strategies and negotiations with advertisers.  As a result, the information exchanges harmed the competitive price-setting process.”

Full Content: DOJ
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