Nexstar settles U.S. antitrust charges: Justice Department

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it has settled antitrust charges with Nexstar Media Group Inc NXST.O, which was accused of sharing sensitive information with rivals in the broadcast television industry.

The information involved how stations were performing, which provides insight to rivals about whether they would raise, lower or maintain spot advertising prices, the agency said in a statement.

The settlement, which must be approved by a court, bars direct and indirect sharing of such information and requires Nexstar to cooperate in the ongoing investigation, the statement said.

“Robust competition among broadcast stations allows American businesses to obtain competitive advertising rates. The unlawful sharing of information reduced that competition and harmed businesses and the consumers they serve,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Makan Delrahim said.

Nexstar, which owns or operates 105 television stations, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In November, the Justice Department announced it had settled similar antitrust charges with Sinclair Broadcast Group SBGI.O, Tribune Media Co TRCO.N, Raycom Media Inc, Meredith Corp MDP.N, Griffin Communications and Dreamcatcher Broadcasting LLC.

Reporting by Eric Beech; editing by David Alexander and G Crosse