FTC takes some air out of Aereo exec’s wallet


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionBarry Diller, who has angered much of the broadcast community with his internet-based Aereo program distribution platform, will be paying a hefty sum to settle a charge from the Federal Trade Commission regarding non-compliance with the Hart-Scott-Roding Act.

The agreed-upon payment will be just shy of half a million dollars — $480K to be exact.

FTC explained, “The Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act requires that parties notify the FTC and the Department of Justice of most large transactions that affect commerce in the United States.  After doing so, parties must observe a waiting period before closing their transaction, while one of the two agencies determines whether the transaction may result in a substantial lessening of competition.  The violation alleged in the complaint is detailed below.

“According to the complaint, Diller, an investor with many holdings in media companies, acquired 120,000 shares of Coca Cola on November 1, 2010.  As a result, he held voting securities of more than $63.4 million, the premerger reporting threshold under the HSR Act at the time.  Between November 1, 2010, and April 26, 2012, Diller acquired an additional 605,000 shares of Coca Cola voting securities, but failed to submit the requisite HSR filings. In addition, on April 27, 2012, he acquired 264,000 more shares and again failed to meet his HSR filing requirements. Diller subsequently made corrective filings.

“Diller had previously made a corrective filing in connection with the acquisition of voting securities of CitySearch Inc. in 1998.  The Commission declined to seek penalties at that time, but informed Diller that he was responsible for establishing an effective compliance program.

“Based on these recent violations, Diller has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $480,000.”

Diller’s Aereo service has been taking local broadcast television signals off air and selling them to subscribers eager to part company with cable or satellite services, without broadcasters’ permission and without paying any retransmission compensation. That battle has been in and out.