I run a small ad agency on Long Island, NY. We have approached local clients to sell them our ad services which includes local Cable TV advertising. The large cable TV provider in the area has insinuated that they don't want us calling on clients and have vaguely threatened not to accept our orders for media time if we continue to compete for various clients which their own in-house reps are trying to secure directly. Is this a clear case of restraint of trade? It's difficult because they are my media provider as well as a competitor in the marketplace. They seem reluctant to honor the standard 15% agency discount arrangement and I believe have singled out our company to "reprimand" and intimidate.
3 Answers from Attorneys
I suggest you contact FCC and FTC to seek guidance on guidelines and search their data base individually to discover any official opinions on target. Off the cuff, any private business can have its own bylaws regarding the conduct of business, especially with third parties.
I disagree with my colleague. Primarily, this is not a federal matter but rather a local and state matter.
The good news may be that the ad department of the cable company could be acting independently without corporate's knowledge and when this is brought to the attention of corporate they would realize the legal perils of such actions and put a stop to it.
At the same time, if these are purposeful and directed actions by corporate then the relevant regulations ought to be notified and further legal action considered
I have had prior successful dealings with state regulators involving cable matters. Contact me directly for further discussion.
Roman R. Fichman, Esq.
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You say many times the cable company has "insinuated," "vaguely implied," "you believe they have singled you out," "they seem reluctant." In other words you're guessing; you have nothing concrete. So far the cable company actually hasn't done anything at all to interfere with your business. Is that right? My advice is to get this story out of your head, forget about getting lawyers involved to help with an imaginary problem, and go full bore working as hard as you can to reach your goal of building a profitable advertising agency. Can't wait to see you on Shark Tank.
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