By Edward L. Puzzo, J.D.
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division is challenging an agreement between outdoor advertising companies Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings and Fairway Media Group to exchange $150 million in outdoor advertising assets in the Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Sherman, Texas metropolitan areas, the department has announced.
In a complaint filed today in the federal district court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department alleged that the proposed asset swap would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act by eliminating the substantial head-to-head competition between Clear Channel and Fairway in these markets—competition that has benefited advertisers with lower prices and better service.
Concurrent with the filing, the department also issued a proposed Final Judgment to rectify the anti-competitive problem. It calls for the divestiture of 13 billboard structures in the Indianapolis market to Circle City Outdoor, and the divestiture of 44 billboard structures in the Atlanta market to Link Media Georgia.
"The loss of competition between Clear Channel and Fairway as a result of the proposed transaction would have led to higher prices for advertisers who rely on billboards to reach consumers located within the Atlanta and Indianapolis metropolitan markets," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. "Today’s settlement will ensure that advertisers will continue to enjoy the benefits of competition when they seek to place advertisements on billboards in these areas."
Companies: Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc.; Fairway Media Group, LLC; Circle City Outdoor, LLC; Link Media Georgia, LLC.
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