Valassis fourth to sue News America

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Details on the exclusive category deals are emerging as News America faces a lawsuit from its biggest coupon competitor, Valassis Communications, that charges it's using monopoly power for its SmartSource in-store advertising program to entice or bully marketers into buying space in SmartSource newspaper coupon inserts.

Valassis' is the latest and biggest of four antitrust or unfair competition suits filed against News America in recent years, one of which resulted in a $7 million judgment against the company. News America is appealing that lawsuit and has denied allegations in the others.

The Valassis suit charges News America is using monopoly power to threaten package-goods marketers it will raise prices for in-store advertising programs by as much as 100% if they don't also buy space in its coupon books. Valassis also accuses News America of using bundled contracts spanning in-store ads and coupon inserts to divert revenue from in-store programs to reduce revenue-sharing payments with some retailers.

"We believe the Valassis lawsuit is without merit," said Christopher Mixson, president, News America Marketing. "This course of action appears to be more of a business strategy than a legitimate lawsuit. "

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