Nexstar Broadcasting Group has filed a federal civil antitrust lawsuit against Granite Broadcasting and its WISE Ft. Wayne station. Nexstar's WFFT Ft. Wayne, currently the Fox affiliate, goes independent Aug. 1 as WISE takes over the Fox affiliation.
Nexstar seeks "to remedy the anticompetitive impact that has been caused and will be caused by Granite's efforts to monopolize local advertising sales in the Fort Wayne, Indiana Designated Market Area resulting from exclusive affiliate agreements Granite has executed with two of the four major television networks," said Nexstar. "As a result of Granite's efforts and its shared services agreement with Malara Broadcasting in the Fort Wayne, Indiana Designated Market Area, Granite will control local television advertising sales for stations affiliated with the FOX, NBC and ABC networks, as well as the CW and MyNetwork TV networks."
Nexstar did not return a call seeking comment. Granite chairman Peter Markham said the company did not have a comment.
WISE is currently an NBC affiliate. WISE airs MyNetworkTV on its .2 channel, while Malara's WPTA is an ABC affiliate with the CW on its .2. Granite manages the Malara stations, which jointly operate under the "Indiana's NewsCenter" banner.
Management deals for in-market rivals is also central to the Nexstar strategy in several markets.
Nexstar, based in Irving, Texas, is seeking a judgment that will "cause Granite's ability to control the advertising sales and revenues of at least one of the three ‘Big Four' network affiliations to be terminated," said Nexstar.
Nexstar is locked in a harsh battle with Fox over affiliation agreements, with several of its stations, including KSFX Springfield and WFFT, losing their Fox affiliations.
Nexstar is being represented by Constantine Cannon LLP and Krieg Devault LLP.
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