Hausfeld, court-appointed as sole Lead Counsel in this multidistrict litigation, represents a proposed class of purchasers of television advertising spots against broadcast giants in connection with claims that the television station owners conspired to artificially inflate prices for television advertisements in violation of the federal antitrust laws.
Plaintiffs allege that CBS Corp., Cox Enterprises, Inc., Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC, Fox Corp., Raycom Media, Inc., Griffin Communications, LLC, Meredith Corp., Nexstar Group, Inc., The E.W. Scripps Company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., TEGNA Inc., Tribune Media Company, Tribune Broadcasting Company, LLC, Cox Media Group, LLC, and Katz Media Group, Inc. colluded to fix prices and share competitively sensitive and nonpublic information regarding advertising sales and pricing, which allowed Defendants to artificially inflate the prices of television advertisements.
The DOJ brought a similar complaint and reached a settlement with six broadcast television companies, including three of the Defendants here—Sinclair, Tribune and Nexstar. In a November 13, 2018 DOJ press release announcing the settlement, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division was quoted as saying: “The unlawful exchange of competitively sensitive information allowed these television broadcast companies to disrupt the normal competitive process of spot advertising in markets across the United States.” According to the same press release, the “proposed settlement prohibits the direct or indirect sharing of such competitively sensitive information,” and “further requires defendants to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation, and to adopt rigorous antitrust compliance and reporting measures to prevent similar anticompetitive conduct in the future.” Motions to dismiss have been denied.
The multidistrict litigation is before Judge Virginia M. Kendall in the Northern District of Illinois under the caption In re Local TV Advertising, MDL 2867 (N.D.Ill.). On January 23, 2019 the Court appointed Hausfeld’s Megan E. Jones to serve as lead counsel in the case. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall said in her order that “[Jones] has done significant work in identifying and investigating potential claims, she is highly experienced in complex litigation, she knows antitrust law, and her firm has appropriate resources to represent the class.” Hausfeld “more than meets” the requirements to serve as lead counsel, said the order.
In November 2020, the court upheld the complaint, denying the joint motion to dismiss and the motion to strike class allegations. Defendants have answered the complaint and discovery is underway.