“A defunct retailer has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media and other big owners of local TV stations conspired to jack up the prices of local commercials, violating federal antirust laws,” reports the New York Post.
The report adds: “The suit by now-bankrupt Bon-Ton Stores, filed Monday in the federal court in the Northern District of Illinois, claims the retailer spent more than $89 million in local ads over the past four years.”
“Through their price-fixing scheme, Tribune, Sinclair and their [‘John Doe’] co-conspirators have monopolized the airwaves and extorted millions of dollars from businesses like Bon-Ton,” said Bon-Ton outside lawyer Adam Levitt, who works for the law firm DiCello Levitt & Casey.
In its press release about the suit DiCello Levitt & Casey adds: “Bon-Ton’s complaint alleges that station owners have shared their pricing information and coordinated efforts to stabilize or inflate spot prices, including setting a ‘floor’ for all spot pricing. It also claims that, within a DMA, no station owner that is party to the conspiracy was permitted to reduce spot prices below a certain cost-per-point. By setting such a floor, but then still negotiating with individual advertisers, stations were able to maintain the façade of a competitive market when in reality they had fixed prices.”
The Post story notes that “Tribune declined to comment, and Sinclair did not respond to requests for comment.”