News Corp. Pays $500M in Price-Fixing Suit

In a last-minute deal, News Corp. avoids a trial, scheduled for Feb. 2

Last Updated: February 8, 2010 @ 12:07 PM

In a quiet news release on Saturday, News Corp. announced that it had come to a last-minute settlement of a price-fixing lawsuit by agreeing to pay Valassis Communications $500 million.

The trial was scheduled to begin on Feb. 2 in Michigan.

The lawsuit (read the full order here), accused the marketing arm of News Corp., News America Marketing, of predatory pricing and coercive long term contracts with packaged goods companies and supermarkets. The pre-trial litigation had been conducted under a shroud of secrecy imposed by a judge, and thus far little had emerged to shed light on the marketing practices of companies advertising with Valassis and News America.

Valassis, a media and marketing services company, offering reach and scale to more than 15000 advertisers, already won a $300 million verdict against News Corp. in July.

Here’s the news release:

New York, NY, January 30, 2010 –– News Corporation today announced it has settled with Valassis Communications Inc. for $500 million in a lawsuit filed against the Company’s News America Marketing unit that was scheduled to go to trial in a Michigan federal court on February 2, 2010. The settlement also covers the $300 million Valassis was awarded in July in a Michigan circuit court that is currently on appeal and a pending state court case in California.

“It has become evident to our legal advisors from pre-trial proceedings over the past couple of weeks that significant risks were developing in presenting this case to a jury,” said News Corporation Deputy Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer, Chase Carey. “That, coupled with concerns over the venue, led us to believe it was in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders to agree to a settlement.”