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Viamedia Sues Comcast Over Claims of Spot Ad Dominance

Viamedia is seeking $75 million in damages via a lawsuit lobbed at Comcast over allegations that the MSO is monopolizing the $5 billion “spot” ad business, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Viamedia’s lawsuit, filed today in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois, followed the launch of a probe late last year by the Department of Justice that looked into whether Comcast’s role in the spot cable ad sales market hinders competition and violates antitrust law.

At the time, Comcast said it would cooperate fully with the DoJ inquiry. 

Update: Comcast issued this statement in response to the Viamedia lawsuit: "The American advertising market is robustly competitive, and advertisers have never had more choices to reach consumers.  Local cable advertising competes with local broadcast TV, radio, newspapers, outdoor display, and the rapidly growing digital marketplace.  All multichannel-video providers - or MVPDs - account for only about 7% of local advertising sales. In the top 50 DMAs, nearly half of the interconnects, including those in the country’s two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, for local cable advertising are not run by Comcast.  We are currently reviewing the suit and generally do not comment on pending litigation."

Viamedia reportedly lost business when former partner RCN picked Comcast Spotlight to handle its local ad sales in several markets, and, per a report last year by The Wall Street Journal, Wide Open West also recently struck a deal with Comcast Spotlight that was to become active in 2016.

 Viamedia previously came out against the earlier, and since-scuttled, proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, over claims that the combo stood to control $4.5 billion out of the $5.4 billion spot cable market, and called for conditions that would insure that NCC Media interconnects were independently managed.

NCC is jointly owned by Comcast, Cox Media and  Time Warner Cable, and has a several “affiliates” that include AT&T U-verse, Buckeye CableSystem, Cable One, Cablevision Systems, CenturyLink, DirecTV, Dish Network, Grande Communications, Verizon FiOS, RCN, Viamedia, and WOW.