The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree yesterday that would end the government's eight year-old antitrust litigation involving CBS Inc.
The agreement, which was reported earlier this week by The Washington Post, limits the amount of entertainment programming that CBS can produce for use on its television network. The agreement still must be approved by a federal judge in Los Angeles.
The suit originally was filed in 1972, but was dismissed two years later, after CBS charged the case was based on the Nixon administration's desire to stifle CBS news reports.
The case was refiled a month later during the Ford administration and has been tied up by legal manuvering and a complex discovery process for the past six years.
Companion suits were brought against all the two other networks. NBC settled its suit in 1976; the suit against ABC is pending. The CBS consent decree is modeled after the NBC agreement. Terms of both the NBC and CBS agreement could be altered by the resolution of the ABC case.
Gene Jankowski, president of CBS broadcast group, said that nothing during the years of the litigation has changed the company's view that the suit "is legally unsound and factually unsupported."
Jankowski said the defense of the suit has cost the networks "millions of dollars in legal and other expenses." The suit was settled in order to avoid continuing to "divert our human and financial resources," he said.