WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has settled antitrust charges with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media Co and four other broadcast companies accused of sharing competitively sensitive information with rivals, the department said on Tuesday.
The companies also include Raycom Media Inc, Meredith Corp, Griffin Communications and Dreamcatcher Broadcasting LLC.
The information involved how stations were performing, giving insight to rivals about whether they would raise, lower or maintain spot advertising prices, the agency said in a statement.
“Advertisers rely on competition among owners of broadcast television stations to obtain reasonable advertising rates, but this unlawful sharing of information lessened that competition and thereby harmed the local businesses and the consumers they serve,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said.
The information-sharing was uncovered during the department’s review of Sinclair’s planned purchase of Tribune Media, according to a person familiar with the probe who requested anonymity to speak to the media. The merger was terminated in August because of opposition from the Federal Communications Commission.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Richard Chang