Prime Brings Charges Against AT&T to Justice Department

BOSTON — Prime Communications has asked the Department of Justice to investigate charges it brought against AT&T Broadband last fall.

In November, the Wakefield, Mass., advertising and media shop launched a $20 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boston against AT&T Broadband, the country’s largest cable television company, alleging unfair business practices and monopolization.The complaint asserted AT&T rejected paid advertising that Prime had attempted to place on stations carried by AT&T, the dominant cable service in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Prime alleged that because it refused to sell to AT&T its PrimeIQ Web-based lead management tool, which competes with a similar product of AT&T’s called Vehix, AT&T terminated their 15-year relationship (Adweek, Dec. 10, 2001).

The lawsuit charged that along with banning it from purchasing ads on the cable system, AT&T was eliminating competition in the marketplace by having its own advertising division handle Prime’s clients.

AT&T denied in December it had violated federal anti-trust laws or engaged in unfair business practices.

Prime is now asking to meet with Department investigators and hopes to facilitate meetings with other media professionals and economic experts to address the threat of monopolization against competition throughout the industry.

An AT&T representative said the company’s position has not changed regarding the accusation, declining further comment pending trial, which is slated for later in the spring, according to president of Prime Communications.