Christian Music Execs Say Monopoly Must Go

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A Christian broadcaster's monopoly restricts competition in the religious media market, a concert promoter claims in Federal Court.
     LMG Concerts, based in Vancouver, Wash., promotes concerts for top Christian music acts, including The Veggie Tales, The Newsboys and Michael W. Smith.
     It says Salem Communications is "the largest commercial U.S. radio broadcasting company providing programming to audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content."
     The Federal Communications Commission licenses Salem for all four Christian radio stations in the Portland metropolitan area, including 104.1 FM The Fish, the only commercial Christian station in the area, according to LMG's complaint.
     "Just as Salem Communications' radio arm completely dominates the Christian music airwaves in the Portland metro area, its live entertainment arm, Fish Concerts, is attempting to dominate the Christian concert promotion business," LMG says.
     "The list of artists Salem Communications has promoted reads like a Who's Who in the Contemporary Christian Music industry and includes such commercially successful performers as Toby Mac, Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jeremy Camp, Matthew West, Kutless and Peter Furler," it added.
     "Each of these artists has been promoted by LMG concerts prior to Salem Communications using its market dominance to undermine LMG's ability to compete."
     LMG says it needs access to commercial Christian radio advertising, but that Salem is preventing it from doing so.
     "LMG's ability to promote its local concerts on Salem Communications' stations - and the artists' ability to secure airplay of their music on those stations - can and does determine the financial success (or failure) of LMG, the artists and their concerts," the complaint says (parentheses in original). "This is especially true with new artists."
     LMG seeks punitive damages and an injunction for violations of state and federal antitrust law. It is represented by Anthony McNamer.