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Blockbuster CEO Denies Conspiracy Deals

June 27, 2002|T.A. BADGER | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The chief executive of Blockbuster Inc. testified Wednesday that the video-rental giant competed vigorously with other video retailers, but that it considered large chains as its major rivals, rather than independent stores.

John F. Antioco was called as a hostile witness by the plaintiffs suing Dallas-based Blockbuster and top Hollywood movie studios for alleged antitrust violations.

The plaintiffs--three small video-store operators--claim the studios and Blockbuster conspired on special revenue-sharing deals in the late 1990s to monopolize the video-rental market and drive them out of business.

Under revenue sharing, Blockbuster paid less up front for tapes and then split the rental revenue with the movie studios.

Before the revenue deals, Blockbuster and others typically paid a set fee for a tape and kept all of the income generated.

Antioco denied that any improper conspiracy existed and said the studios were free to make revenue-sharing deals with Blockbuster's competitors.

Just before Antioco's testimony, James Sweeney, an economist from Stanford University, told jurors that his analysis of Blockbuster's revenue-sharing deals with the studios led him to believe that an illegal conspiracy existed that hurt independent video retailers.

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