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Justice Department investigating broadcast groups for collusion on ad sales

From The Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department is investigating whether television station owners violated antitrust law in ways that inflated local television advertising prices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The probe has examined whether Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., Tribune Media Co. and other independent TV station owners coordinated efforts when their ad sales teams communicated with each other about their performance, potentially leading to higher rates for TV commercials, one of the people said.

Companies like Sinclair and Tribune own dozens of local TV stations that carry programming from national broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. ... Government officials stumbled across the alleged ad sales practice during their review of Sinclair’s $3.9 billion proposed acquisition of Tribune, the people familiar with the matter said.

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