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Broadcasters Keep Right to Contract with Local TV Stations

Key Facts

  • Boston station WHDH sought an injunction to extend its contract with our client, Comcast/NBCUniversal, and stop the launch of a new, directly owned NBC station
  • All claims of breach of contract and monopolization were dismissed at the earliest possible stage

The Situation

In a case with far-reaching implications for every cable and over-the-air content provider in America, NBC’s former Boston affiliate, WHDH, sued Comcast and NBC Universal in 2016, seeking to enforce alleged rights under an agreement struck with 200 independent NBC affiliates and claiming that Comcast and NBC were engaging in exclusionary conduct in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.

The Approach

We recommended the most aggressive available option a motion to dismiss that assumed, solely for the sake of argument, that all of WHDH’s allegations were true, and still demonstrated that, based on indisputable contract terms and research on viewership within the relevant market, WHDH’s claims of breach, unfair trade practices, and monopolization failed as a matter of law.

The Outcome

After briefing and oral argument, a federal judge adopted all of our arguments, found no breach or unlawful conduct by Comcast or NBC, and affirmed our clients’ right to launch a new, directly owned station. In the wake of the court’s extensive opinion, WHDH chose not to appeal.

Supporting Professionals

Peter Biagetti and Larry Schoen, Members in the firm’s Litigation Practice, achieved this crucial victory for Comcast/NBCUniversal with the assistance of Litigation Practice Associates Geoff Friedman and Mathilda McGee-Tubb.