An Illinois court refused to toss a $225 million suit filed against “spot” advertising company Viamedia, which claims Comcast illegally impeded competition in local cable advertising
Viamedia filed suit against Comcast in May in the Northern District of Illinois federal court, accusing Comcast Spotlight of shutting out rivals from interconnects it controls.
“Viamedia has plausibly alleged that defendants engaged in conduct that lowered the quality of service available in the spot cable advertising representation market, and that this conduct resulted in harm to Viamedia,” Judge Amy St. Eve said in her ruling.
Viamedia claims Comcast excluded its clients, WideOpenWest and RCN, from interconnects in Chicago and Detroit. In order to obtain access to these interconnects, these MSOs had to agree to let Comcast Spotlight broker their spot ad sales.
A year ago, the Justice Department launched an investigation against Comcast, looking at very much the same allegations. The DOJ hasn't revealed where that investigation stands.
As for Judge St. Eve, she ruled that Viamedia has done enough to make a chase that Comcast has violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
"Viamedia’s allegations of a tying arrangement sufficiently state a claim at this stage,” she said. “Viamedia has plausibly alleged distinct markets for spot cable advertising representation services and Interconnect services," a necessary predicate for an illegal tying claim.
Comcast reps have yet to respond to FierceCable’s inquiry for comment. However, Comcast has noted previously that, "In the top 50 DMAs, nearly half of the interconnects, including those in the country's two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, for local cable advertising are not run by Comcast.”