BIA To DOJ: Stations Battle Digital For Ad Dollars

Speaking yesterday on day one of the Department of Justice’s two-day workshop on the local advertising market, BIA Managing Director Rick Ducey said digital media are the fastest growing sector of the market. Digital, he said, will get 40% of the local auto spend this year and nearly 50% by 2023. DOJ is holding the workshop as it reconsiders its policy of blocking duopolies comprising network affiliates in light of changes in the ad market.

 

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Jessell | Winning Over DOJ On Duops Won’t Be Easy

This Thursday and Friday, at a “workshop” in Washington, broadcasters get to make the case to the antitrust division of the Justice Department that TV stations compete not only with each other, but also with cable and digital media like Facebook and Google. It’s nice that Justice is giving broadcasters this opportunity to air their grievances, but I’m doubtful it will trigger a change in policy, at least not in the short term.

T-Mobile-Sprint Runs Into Antitrust Trouble

The DOJ’s antitrust division has told the two wireless carriers that their planned merger is unlikely to be approved as currently structured, according to people familiar with the matter, casting doubt on the fate of the $26 billion deal.

Justice OKs Nexstar’s Spin-Offs To Scripps

The Justice Department is OK with Nexstar’s spin-offs of eight TV stations to Scripps, part of its deal to acquire Tribune. Scripps is buying eight stations in seven markets for $580 million. The sale keeps Nexstar on the right side of FCC ownership limits.

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Jessell | News And Views From NAB 2019

Good feelings about the broadcasting business at the NAB last week were tempered by the slow pace of ownership regulations at the FCC and Justice Department and the threat from the ever-growing roster of direct-to-consumer streaming services. Some other random takeaways: Is the convention shrinking? | ATSC 3.0 felt more like ATSC 2.4. | There’s a repack disconnect. | Reporting on the Trump White House.

Justice Dept. Takes On Netflix-Oscars Feud

The Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that its potential rule changes limiting the eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services for the Oscars could raise antitrust concerns and violate competition law.

FCC’s O’Rielly: DOJ’s Merger Standards ‘Stink’

As FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly sees it, Justice has been hostile to, say, combinations of top four TV stations in markets because it continues to hold that TV stations compete only with each other. “That’s completely wrong,” he said. “Everybody is in the same market and the big tech companies are trying to steal everybody’s lunch. We have to recognize that.”

Justice Sets Dates For TV Merger Workshop

DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim slots the event for May 2-3 and says the event may result in Justice changing how it looks not only at mergers, but also at spot advertising and retrans.

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Jessell | The Ergen-Locast Link And Other Vital Matters

A smorgasbord of topics this week: (1) I don’t know it for a fact, but I know that it’s true that Charlie Ergen is the money behind Locast, the OTT service that is streaming local broadcast signals. (2) Retrans is also under attack from STELAR, the law that empowers satellite operators to import distant signals of network O&Os into areas where subscribers cannot receive local affiliates off air and is up for renewal. (3) With the emergence of the new Fox Corp. this week, a forecast finds that most of its broadcast fee growth will come from reverse comp. (4) A tip of the hat to FCC Comish Michael O’Rielly for taking on the Justice Department, which has been stepping on the FCC’s turf regarding local TV ownership rules.

Facebook’s Data Deals Under Investigation

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.

DOJ OK With Scripps-Cordillera Station Buy

The Justice Department has signed off on the sale of 15 TV stations from Evening Post Industries’ (EPI) Cordillera Communications to Scripps for $521 million. That came in an early termination notice Tuesday released by the Federal Trade Commission, which divvies up merger reviews. The notice means that the antitrust review has been ended early with no issues that would cause the deal to be blocked or conditioned.

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Jessell | Who Put The DOJ In Charge of Broadcast Regs?

Lately, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice headed by Makan Delrahim has been undermining the FCC — and perhaps even Congress — and disrupting the broadcasting business as it struggles to ward off rivals for viewers and ad dollars on multiple fronts. I cannot remember a time when Justice has plunged so deeply into the nitty gritty of the broadcasting advertising marketplace and what kind of local station combinations should be allowed.

DOJ To Study Impact Of Edge On Local Ads

Department of Justice antitrust chief Makan Delrahim says that Justice will hold a two-day workshop on the impact of online advertising on the local broadcast TV market, and whether it should adjust its merger reviews given the argument that the edge is now competing for the local car dealer ads and should be considered part of the relevant competitive market.

DMA 198: CASPER, WY

Gray Blames Feds For Local News Cuts In Casper

The group says that since the DOJ blocked its acquision of a CBS affiliation in Casper that would have given it essential retrans revenue, it’s merging news operations at its NBC affiliate KCWY Casper, Wyo., with those of its KGWN in Cheyenne and cutting back in Casper.

DOJ May Let Disney Spin Off Fox RSNs

The Department of Justice is prepared to put the ball back in Disney’s court for unloading Fox’s regional sports networks, saving Disney from a fire sale and billions of dollars in losses, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said. Justice is poised to allow Disney to spin off the control of Fox’s 22 regional sports networks to complete its $71 billion deal for Fox, one of the sources said, as opposed to finding an actual buyer.

AG Nominee To Recuse Himself From AT&T-TW

William Barr, President Trump‘s nominee for attorney general, promised to recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s lawsuit to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, according to a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DOJ Backs Off Comcast-NBCU Merger Probe

The Department of Justice has decided against ramping up an investigation into Comcast’s seven-year-old acquisition of NBCUniversal — despite President Trump recently doubling down on his criticism of the tie-up as anticompetitive.

DOJ Sets Divestitures For Gray-Raycom OK

Gray and Raycom must divest television stations in nine markets to receive approval of the $3.6 billion merger.

Nexstar Settles DOJ Ad Info Investigation

Nexstar has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over DOJ’s investigation into the TV ad market, specifically what DOJ says are anticompetitive exchanges of competitively sensitive information. It has already settled with Sinclair, Raycom, Tribune, Meredith, Griffin and Dreamcatcher, but added Nexstar to the settlement as a defendant Thursday (Dec. 13) and filed a proposed settlement at the same time, as it did with the others, which all settled Nov. 13.

DOJ Hammered In AT&T-TV Oral Argument

Judges probing arguments for and against the AT&T-Time Warner merger attacked the Department of Justice’s argument that a lower court judge exhibited clear error in allowing the deal to go through and rejecting the government’s economic analysis that the combined company would use its leverage to raise retail prices anticompetitively. Judges sometimes play devil’s advocate, but DOJ clearly got the tougher — and much longer — end of the grilling.

Snap Says DOJ, SEC Investigating Its IPO

The U.S. government is investigating whether Snap Inc. manipulated its $3.4 billion initial public offering. Snapchat’s parent company revealed Wednesday that the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have subpoenaed the company about potentially misleading claims it made in its March 2017 filing.

DOJ Clears Ad Holding Companies

The Department of Justice has informed five ad holding companies that it is no longer investigating any of their subsidiaries as part of a probe into commercial production practices and possible bid-rigging that began in 2016. Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, WPP and MDC Partners all confirmed the DOJ has notified them that the investigation has concluded with regard to any and all of their respective entities. No action has been taken against the firms or their employees.

Justice Settles Antitrust Case Against 6 TV Groups

The Justice Department has settled with six TV station groups over what DOJ said was the “unlawful sharing of competitively sensitive” information on advertising that disrupted “the normal competitive process of spot advertising in markets across the United States.” The six: Sinclair Broadcast Group, Raycom Media, Tribune Media, Meredith Corp., Griffin Communications and Dreamcatcher Broadcasting.

Trump Turns Attention To Comcast Allegations

President Trump on Monday took aim at Comcast after a Fox Business Network article suggested the Department of Justice could investigate the cable giant for violating antitrust laws.

WarnerMedia: DOJ Collaborating With Dish

AT&T Inc’s WarnerMedia has accused the U.S. Department of Justice of “collaborating” with Dish Network in a high profile dispute over carrying HBO and Cinemax.

Why The FBI Is Investigating Media Buying

The feds are getting ready to come knocking. On Oct. 10, the Association of National Advertising sent a letter to its members sharing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had contacted the ANA’s outside counsel Reed Smith LLP about assisting with its investigation into U.S. media buying practices. The ANA’s letter, signed by ANA CEO Bob Liodice, suggested next steps its members can take such as consulting with Reed Smith. Here’s what it’s all about.

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Jessell | An Open Letter To Makan Delrahim

On behalf of TV broadcasters everywhere, I have written the assistant attorney general for antitrust, telling him to back off on his investigation of station groups that suggests they may be guilty of price fixing. His concern about market power in ad-supported media is misdirected and it’s exciting the bloodlust of bottom-feeding class-action lawyers.

 

DOJ To Study Comcast’s Influence On Hulu

Assistant Attorney General Markhan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, says his department plans to take a closer look at Comcast’s involvement in Hulu’s management, now that restrictions tied to its acquisition of NBCUniversal have expired.

CBS Subpoenaed Over Moonves Allegations

The company said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it received subpoenas from the Manhattan District Attorney and New York City’s Commission on Human Rights and that it is cooperating.

Calif. Adopts Net Neutrality Law, DOJ Sues

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a measure that restores Obama-era open-internet rules in California, in a direct rebuke to  the Trump Administration’s rollback of these regulations. The Justice Department responded with a lawsuit seeking to prevent the law from taking effect.

AT&T Asks Court To Uphold TW Acquisition

AT&T on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to reject the Justice Department’s challenge to its acquisition of Time Warner, saying the government had offered no basis for second guessing key conclusions of a ruling upholding the transaction.

DOJ NBC Antitrust Scrutiny Will Continue

Antitrust restrictions placed on Comcast Corp. after its takeover of NBCUniversal are due to expire in a few days. But that doesn’t mean the Justice Department is done scrutinizing the company. The department’s antitrust division wrote a letter to Comcast this month warning that it would continue to monitor developments in how the company handles TV programming and distribution. It also asked for notice by Wednesday of any changes that the cable giant plans to make when the decree runs out on Sept. 1, according to the Aug. 14 letter.

DOJ Sides Against Facebook

The U.S. Department of Justice is urging a federal judge to reject the company’s bid to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing it of violating housing laws by facilitating ads that discriminate against women and families with children.

DOJ Seeks Expedited Appeal In AT&T-TV Fight

The U.S. Justice Department has proposed an expedited schedule for an appeal of a judge’s ruling that allowed AT&T to buy movie and TV show maker Time Warner, according to a court filing on Wednesday.

AT&T CEO Confident TW Deal On Solid Ground

The U.S. Justice Department has only a remote chance of overturning AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Friday, while warning the case could affect bidding for 21st Century Fox.

DOJ Appealing Judge’s OK Of AT&T-Time Warner

The Justice Department said in a one-sentence document Thursday it is appealing the ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, which blessed the $81 billion merger following a landmark antitrust trial.

DOJ Wants To Appeal AT&T-TW Deal

Antitrust officials in the Justice Department have privately decided to appeal a federal judge’s approval of AT&T’s planned $85 billion takeover of Time WarnerOpens a New Window. but are facing resistance from the most important player in the process, the office of the U.S. Solicitor General.

Economist: AT&T-TW Could Cost Americans

The Justice Department’s antitrust case against AT&T reached a crescendo Wednesday as government lawyers asked an economist to explain how the telecom giant’s proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner would lead to higher cable bills for consumers.

AT&T Trial Turns To Comcast-NBCU Merger

Justice Department Antitrust Chief Makan Delrahim appeared in the courtroom Thursday to watch the proceedings in the government’s lawsuit to stop AT&T’s bid to purchase Time Warner as attorneys honed in on another merger: Comcast and NBCUniversal.

Six Key Takeaways From The AT&T Trial

A little less than two weeks and eight witnesses into the trial over AT&T’s proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, and we already have a good sense of some of the issues the case — which some are calling the antitrust trial of a generation — will likely pivot around.