SCOTUS Declines Comcast’s Advertising Antitrust Appeal

On Monday, june 28, the US Supreme Court declined to shut down claims that Comcast violated antitrust laws by refusing to do business with Viamedia, a rival in the TV ad placement market, reported Bloomberg Law.

The justices said they won’t review a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reviving Viamedia’s allegations under the “duty to deal” doctrine, which imposes liability for ending a profitable commercial relationship solely to harm a rival. The high court adopted the position advanced by the Biden administration, which had urged it not to get involved in the case.

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, its sole competitor in that arena.

Comcast also refused to let Viamedia use the interconnect at all, the suit claims. The two tactics allegedly combined to drive it out of the Chicago, Detroit, and Hartford markets.

Viamedia’s suit will likely be closely watched since its rare plaintiffs are allowed to pursue monopolization claims, let alone win them, Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director at the Open Markets Institute, said.

“Monopolization claims are tough to win these days, they haven’t won yet but the Seventh Circuit has told Viamedia it has the right to take these claims to trial, and that’s a significant win,” Vaheesan said.

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