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Advertising antitrust lawsuits against Sinclair consolidated

More than a dozen lawsuits accusing Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media Co. of antitrust violations have been transferred and consolidated into federal multidistrict litigation in Illinois.

“We find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation stated in a letter  this week.

Centralizing the lawsuits at this stage will eliminate duplicate discovery requests, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and conserve resources for all parties and the judiciary, the letter states.

All of the defendants supported the consolidation, while plaintiffs in Maryland and New York wanted the MDL based in their own districts, the letter states.

The MDL case is No. 2867, In Re: Local TV Advertising Antitrust Litigation.

The Maryland lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in August by an Arkansas law firm, accused the media companies of “stifling competition” and raising, fixing or stabilizing television advertising prices across the country, making the prices higher than they would have been in a competitive market.

The Law Offices of Peter Miller P.A. alleges the TV advertising market is susceptible to collusion because there are a limited number of station owners selling advertising; the barriers to entry are high; the products are similar; the stations have a common motive to maintain and increase their profits; and the stations had ample opportunities to conspire through industry associations and other interactions.

Sinclair- and Tribune-owned stations reach 38 and 43 percent of American homes, respectively, the lawsuit states.

The case is Law Offices of Peter Miller, P.A. v. Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. et al, No. 1:18-cv-02316-TDC.

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