(Adds comments from Interpublic Group on request from Justice
By Tim Baysinger and Aishwarya Venugopal
NEW YORK Dec 7 Interpublic Group of Cos
, one of the world's biggest advertising companies, said
on Wednesday that the U.S. Justice Department had asked one of
its standalone domestic agencies for documents regarding video
It disclosed the request a day after the Wall Street Journal
reported that the Justice Department's Antitrust Division was
examining whether advertising agencies rigged bids to favor
in-house production units, citing people familiar with the
That story did not identify which advertising firms were
being scrutinized in the investigation, which it said has been
under way for the past few months.
"We can confirm that one of our standalone domestic agencies
has been contacted by the Department of Justice Antitrust
Division for documents regarding video production practices and
is cooperating with the government," Interpublic said in a
Justice Department officials could not immediately be
reached for comment.
A spokesman for WPP Plc, the world's biggest
advertising firm, declined to say if the firm had been contacted
by the Justice Department. Representatives with Omnicom Group
Inc, and Publicis Group SA could not
immediately be reached.
The Wall Street Journal report said the government is
investigating whether agencies compelled independent production
companies to inflate their prices to make it easier for their
own in-house units to be awarded those contracts.
They are trying to determine whether the company violated
federal antitrust laws that prohibit bid rigging and price
fixing, the newspaper reported.
Interpublic's statement said its code of conduct requires it
act in the best interests of clients. "In the case of
production, that means requiring triple bids on all projects
above a minimal dollar threshold," it said.
Interpublic's shares were up 0.6 percent at $23.40 in midday
Large advertising companies have ramped up their own
production efforts in recent years as a way to grow new revenue
streams and keep up with advertisers' increasing demand for
(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Tim
Baysinger in New York; Additional reporting by Joel Schectman in