Comcast’s antitrust fight with Viamedia heads to trial

Comcast
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reinstated Viamedia's lawsuit against Comcast. (Comcast)

Viamedia, a local video and digital advertising platform, said that its ongoing antitrust lawsuit against Comcast appears to be heading to trial.

The company said this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided to reinstate the case, which alleges Comcast violated state and federal antitrust laws by forcing competing cable TV providers to purchase local advertising representation services from Comcast as a condition of participation in joint selling arrangements for regional advertising, also known as interconnects.

"We are pleased the Seventh Circuit found that our allegations and evidence are sufficient to support our antitrust claims. This is a good day for the Viamedia team, our partners and for competition in our industry. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case to a jury and be compensated for the substantial damages to the company, as well as seek remedies that will restore Interconnects as the inclusive marketplaces they were intended to be,” the company said in a statement.

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RELATED: Comcast loses discovery battle in $225M Viamedia suit

“While we are still reviewing the decision, we are disappointed with the panel’s reversal of the lower court’s very thorough and well-reasoned decision, which was based on a careful examination of the record and the appropriate application of longstanding antitrust law. We think the decision reflects a misunderstanding of the facts and a misapplication of the law, and we are considering all of our options,” said Comcast in a statement.

Viamedia accused Comcast of using its “monopoly power” over interconnects to drive it out of business in certain markets. Based on expert reports during discovery phase of the case, Viamedia is seeking damages of approximately $160 million.

A district court dismissed the case and granted Comcast summary judgment. However, after Viamedia appealed, the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the claims and concluded the allegations and evidence should go before a jury.

“Viamedia has … offered evidence to defeat summary judgment on its claim that Comcast unlawfully used its monopoly power over the Interconnects to tie those services to its advertising representation services,” the circuit court wrote in its decision. “Viamedia has also adequately stated a claim that Comcast has unlawfully refused to deal with Viamedia and any cable competitor [for Interconnect services] that bought advertising representation services from Viamedia.”

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