When you own the News, don't become the News.

Promoted. Originally posted 2010-01-30 19:54:46 -0500. -- GH

There is a story up on the AP at the moment which has News Corp agreeing to settle an anti-trust case with a company called Valassis for $500 Million.

News Corp. to pay $500M settlement to Valassis

Just to put this in perspective, payouts of this amount usually receive much more scrutiny:

Exxon Valdez : In the case of Baker v. Exxon, an Anchorage jury awarded $287 million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages.

OK Tedi : A negotiated settlement worth approximately $500 million in compensation and commitments to tailings containment was reached in June 1996.

James Hardie: compensation worth up to $4 billion over the next 40 years

LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) -- News Corp. subsidiary News America Marketing has agreed to pay rival Valassis Communications Inc. $500 million to settle antitrust charges.

Valassis accused News America of threatening customers with price hikes for not offering exclusivity in marketing deals.

In a statement Saturday, News Corp. said it did not want to risk presenting the case to a jury in Michigan federal court, where it was scheduled for trial Tuesday. "it was in the best interests of the company and its stockholders to agree to a settlement."

The Exxon Valdez spill compensation claim was vigorously fought in court of law as well as in the public sphere, with the figure being reduced when the Bush administration was in office.

The OK Tedi disaster was a long term dumping of mining tailings filled with toxic metals, and cyanide contaminants into a river in Papua New Guinea.

The James Hardie payout was for continuing to market and manufacture asbestos building materials and fail to limit exposure to this product even when it was known of the effects on human health.

All of these, and I am sure there are many more, were played out in the press, in the media over and over. I know for a fact that News Corp would have headlined these three, if not many more in their newspapers day after day.

What I'd like to know is if truth and openness is what this organization demands of everyone else, and it is self-righteous, if not indignant in its attacks on others it considers to be doing something without transparency, why run and hide from this fight and at the same time stitch up a deal with the company for 10 years?

Valassis said the deal also includes a 10-year shared mail distribution agreement with News America.

Is it to keep them quiet?

Just to put this in perspective how much money this is and how little fuss is being made about it, think about the amount of coverage of Fox making all that money on Avatar.

IT'S OFFICIAL! 'AVATAR' SINKS 'TITANIC'

add $400 million to News Corp's bottom line.

Now look at this in context a $500 Million out of court settlement gets a couple of lines in AP versus the song and dance over a $400 Million profit??

It seems to me they handed over the cash a little too easily on this one.

Finally, after a brief search, the timing of this settlement and outcome appear to have enormous implications for the direct mail business.

The Cost of Valassis' Suit vs. News America

Valassis Comunications...controls roughly half the direct mail in the U.S..... its main rival, News America Marketing Group, which controls the other half.

The $1.5 billion suit contained the juicy tidbit that News America used a video of the baseball bat beating scene from The Untouchables as an illustration of its corporate strategy.....

The irony here, for those of you with long memories, is it was Valassis that, in 2004, was caught by the FTC attempting to persuade News America to join it in a price-fixing scheme.

This deal between former rivals, one of which approached the other to collude on price, seems like it needs much greater scrutiny IMO.

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I've not had reason, before now, that these companies should hit my radarscreen by name. 

But the pattern of the free speech that will now flow in unconstrained fashion (thanks to the Supreme Court activists Roberts and Alito) has gone in some interesting directions in the past.

They buy both sides of the bipartisan aisle, in the States but I also notice an affinity for Tom Delay's money laundry machine, for example.

  • Candidates and committees in which News America-Fox Pac invests its money.  FEC database listing.

None of that should surprise me, necessarily, but I appreciate the tip in that direction.

Your objective of raising interesting points suceeds in my thinking!  DIFFERENT anti-trust / monopoly issues seem to immediately fly right off the bat.  The money they've agreed to is a good chunk of change, I wonder if silence AND potentially other damages for some reason, were obtained by this agreement?

Interesting stuff, thanks!

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson