News Corp. agrees to pay $280 million to settle antitrust suit on first day of trial

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by Steve Larson

monopolyNews Corp. has agreed to pay $280 million to resolve claims that it monopolized the market for in-store promotions at more than 50,000 retail stores across the United States.  The settlement abruptly ended a trial that had begun earlier in the day.

The plaintiffs, included consumer packaged goods companies, including Dial and Kraft Heinz.  The plaintiffs had been seeking $674.6 million, a sum that could have been tripled to more than $2 billion under federal antitrust laws.

News Corp. was accused of monopolizing the U.S. market for in-store promotion services, where it acts as a middleman to help companies promote goods through coupon dispensers, electronic signs, end-of-aisle displays and shopping cart ads.

The plaintiffs said News Corp. had dominated this market since 2004 by locking up exclusive long-term contracts with retailers, and by 2009 commanded a 90.5 percent market share.

The plaintiffs said News Corp.’s anti-competitive conduct forced them to pay artificially high prices to promote such goods as Dial soap and Heinz ketchup, resulting in overcharges ranging from 29.9 percent to 39.6 percent from 2009 to 2016.

Under the settlement, News Corp. agreed not to enter exclusive contracts with retailers lasting longer than 2-1/2 years, unless retailers first ask for such contracts in writing.

The case is Dial Corp. et al v. News Corp. et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-06802.