Nexstar claims Granite’s WISE Fort Wayne Ind., is attempting to monopolize ad sales in the market through its shared services agreement with Malara’s WPTA and control of the local ad sales of three of the Big Four networks, plus MNT and the CW.
Nexstar Broadcasting Group today filed a federal civil antitrust lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana against Granite Broadcasting, alleging that Granite is monopolizing local TV sales in Fort Wayne, Ind..
According to Nexstar, Granite will control the local ad sales in the market with stations affiliated with Fox, NBC, ABC, CW and MNT.
The suit is an apparent reaction to Granite’s WISE picking up the Fox affiliation in Fort Wayne after Nexstar was unable to come to terms with Fox on renewing the affiliation for its WFFT. WISE is named in the suit.
WISE is an NBC affiliate that now carries MNT on a subchannel. Starting Aug. 1, it plans to split the time on the subchannel between MNT and Fox.
Under an arrangement with Malara Broadcasting, WISE also operates ABC affiliate WPTA, which carries the CW on a subchannel.
Last week, Nexstar announced plans to operate WFFT as an independent.
LIN Media owns the market’s CBS affiliate, WANE.
Nexstar’s lawsuit asserts that Granite’s actions violate Section 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, Section 7 of the Clayton Act, and Indiana antitrust law.
Nexstar is seeking a judgment that would force Granite to give up at least one of the three Big Four network affiliation it now represents in the market.
It is also seeking treble damages for injuries that it has sustained and will sustain as a result of Granite’s anticompetitive acts.
“[G]ranite’s actions to monopolize advertising sales in Fort Wayne will allow it to raise advertising rates to local businesses that are dependent on a fair and competitive television network marketplace,” Nexstar said in a statement.
“The increased advertising rates will likely drive increases in the prices of goods and services for consumers as well.”
Nexstar is being represented in its lawsuit by Constantine Cannon LLP and Krieg Devault LLP.
Granite COO Duane Lammers declined to comment on the suit. Lammers, incidentally, is a former COO of Nexstar.