US brings antitrust lawsuit in NYC to block merger of 2 largest cinema advertising networks

Markets Associated Press

The Justice Department is asking a federal court in New York to block the planned merger of the nation's only two large movie house advertising companies.

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The department sued Monday in Manhattan.

National CineMedia Inc. plans a $375 million acquisition of Screenvision LLC. The companies compete to create advertising sequences that are shown in theaters before the previews begin.

A Justice Department official says in a news release that the acquisition is the type of monopoly-creating merger that antitrust laws were designed to prevent. He says the merger would harm movie theaters, consumers and advertisers.

The government says the combined companies' ads would appear on 88 percent of all U.S. movie screens.

Manhattan-based Screenvision and Centennial, Colorado-based National CineMedia say the merger will offer advertisers a better product with broader reach.