Appeals Court Reinstates Viamedia Antitrust Suit Against Comcast

Ad company alleged cable operator monopolized spot ad market
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An appeals court has reinstated a nearly four-year-old case brought by ad company Viamedia that claimed Comcast monopolized the spot advertising market by locking out certain providers from local interconnects.

Viamedia, first brought the suit in 2016 and sued for $75 million in damages, claiming that Comcast prevented it from representing advertisers in Chicago, Detroit and Hartford, Conn., by gaining control of local interconnects. According to the suit, Viamedia claimed Comcast refused to deal with it or any other company that did business with the company. Those damage claims were later increased to $160 million, which after trebling under antitrust laws and pre-judgment interest could cost Comcast as much as $500 million.  

A lower court dismissed Viamedia’s claim that Comcast refused to deal with the company in 2016, and in 2018 granted the cable operator a summary judgment with respect to Viamedia’s exclusive dealing and tying claims, which Viamedia appealed.

On Feb. 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the lower court decision, adding that “Viamedia’s allegation and evidence are sufficient to state and support claims that should be presented to a jury.”

Viamedia is represented in its lawsuit by Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick PLLC.

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

In a statement, Comcast said it was disappointed with the court’s decision and is evaluating its options.

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

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