CCE Loses JamSports Suit

UPDATE: Clear Channel Entertainment has been ordered by a federal jury to pay more than $17 million in actual damages and lost profits, plus an additional $73 million in punitive damages, to motor sports promoter JamSports.

The jury, which reached its verdict in Chicago March 21st, heard testimony for five weeks and spent two days deliberating before deciding that Clear Channel illegally interfered with JamSports’ efforts to secure an exclusive contract in 2001 to promote AMA Supercross events. However, the jury found Clear Channel not liable on antitrust charges.

JamSports’ Jerry Mickelson was pleased with the verdict, despite losing the antitrust claim that Clear Channel used its market power in concert promotion and radio to affect relationships with stadium operators.

“I feel vindicated. This is a win for all of us who have to compete with Clear Channel,” Mickelson, also a partner in Jam Productions, told Pollstar. “The jury sent a clear message to Clear Channel about how wrong they are in the way they believe that they complete. I mean … the message is there.

“No matter what they say in a press release, the jury sent a message about their anti-competitive efforts to keep us out of the motor sports business.”

As expected, Clear Channel intends to appeal.

“We are very disappointed that the jury didn’t see this case for what it really was – a disgruntled competitor who couldn’t succeed in the marketplace and took his case to the courtroom,” the statement from parent company Clear Channel Communications said. “Competition is vital to business. Clear Channel plays by the rules and does quite well. Everyone can’t win in a free-market system – but every business loss does not equal a lawsuit.

“We intend to vigorously appeal this jury’s decision, and expect the appellate court will agree that our company acted completely within the law and should not be held liable for another company’s failings,” Clear Channel’s statement concluded.

“If they appeal, we have to oppose that,” Mickelson responded. “My point is, we stood up against what we believed to be wrong. The jury agreed that what happened to us was wrong. That’s what happened here.”

The jury also ordered AMA Pro Racing to pay JamSports about $169,000 in the verdict, according to Mickelson.

JamSports filed suit in 2002 against Clear Channel and its motor sports division, charging it with using monopolistic practices to wrest a contract JamSports had been negotiating with Paradama Productions for a Supercross series.

Judge Kennelly ordered the suit to trial in an August ruling.

JamSports entered into good faith negotiations with American Motorcyclist Association Pro Racing to promote Supercross events nationwide for the 2003-2009 seasons, the judge ruled. Clear Channel, which held the previous contract, continued to negotiate with AMA despite the terms of the letter of intent between JamSports and AMA, Kennelly said.