Griffin Communications reaches settlement in Justice Department Lawsuit..

Here’s a local news story you won’t see only on channel 9.

Earlier today, the Justice Department announced it has reached a settlement with six tv news broadcast groups across the country over the “unlawful sharing” of competitively sensitive advertising information. One of those groups includes Oklahoma’s own Griffin Communications – the ownership group behind News 9 in OKC and News on 6 in Tulsa.

Here are details via TV News Check:

The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with six broadcast television companies — Sinclair Broadcast Group, Raycom Media, Tribune Media, Meredith Corp., Griffin Communications and Dreamcatcher Broadcasting (a sidecar company to Tribune Media) — to resolve a DOJ lawsuit alleging that the companies engaged in unlawful agreements to share non-public competitively sensitive information with their broadcast television competitors…

“The unlawful exchange of competitively sensitive information allowed these television broadcast companies to disrupt the normal competitive process of spot advertising in markets across the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “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.”

Wow. News 9’s advertising practices harmed local businesses and the consumers they serve? I can’t wait to see how Amanda Taylor covers that on her next edition of Consumer Report!

“Following the game, how News 9’s advertising strategy hurts the Oklahoma people.”

Here are more details of what News 9 actually did:

According to the complaint, the six broadcast television companies agreed in many metropolitan areas across the United States to exchange revenue pacing information, and certain defendants also engaged in the exchange of other forms of non-public sales information in certain metropolitan areas.

Pacing compares a broadcast station’s revenues booked for a certain time period to the revenues booked in the same point in the previous year. Pacing indicates how each station is performing versus the rest of the market and provides insight into each station’s remaining spot advertising for the period.

By exchanging pacing information, the DOJ said, the broadcasters were better able to anticipate whether their competitors were likely to raise, maintain, or lower spot advertising prices, which in turn helped inform the stations’ own pricing strategies and negotiations with advertisers. As a result, the information exchanges harmed the competitive price–setting process.

Yikes. That’s pretty shady. It’s almost as bad as airing TV commercials for unethical businesses that use deceptive advertising tactics to prey upon Oklahoma consumers.