Comcast Loses Ruling On Anti-Monopoly Practices

Comcast Corp. lost a ruling for using monopoly practices against a competitor in the advertising markets of Chicago, Detroit, and Hartford, Connecticut.

The company is accused of controlling its “Interconnect” to prevent Viamedia Inc. to be boycotted by rival telecommunications. The case had initially been dismissed by a federal judge in Chicago.

Comcast - Feb2020Photo Credit:


The antitrust lawsuit accuses Comcast of leveraging its control over its “Interconnect”—the centralized advertising marketplace—to force rival telecoms to boycott the ad coordination services offered by Viamedia Inc., its sole competitor in that arena.

“Viamedia alleged sufficiently, and at summary judgment offered sufficient evidence, that Comcast violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act,” reads the conclusion of the court file in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. “Viewing the allegations and evidence in the light most favorable to Viamedia, Comcast abruptly terminated decade-long, profitable agreements and sacrificed short-term profits to obtain and entrench long-term market power, and used its monopoly power in Interconnect services market to force its MVPD competitors into a relationship that makes Comcast a gatekeeper of its competitors’ advertising revenue. This conduct “reveal[s] a distinctly anticompetitive bent.” Trinko, 540 U.S. at 409, discussing Aspen Skiing, 472 U.S. 585. Comcast is free to contest these issues at trial, as well as to try to prove and quantify any procompetitive justifications. The factual disputes in this case are numerous, genuine, and material.”

“We are pleased the Seventh Circuit found that our allegations and evidence are sufficient to support our antitrust claims,” said Viamedia in a statement “.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.”

“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,” said Comcast, also in a statement. “We think the decision reflects a misunderstanding of the facts and a misapplication of the law, and we are considering all of our options.”

Reference: Bloomberg Law, Fierce Video