Why More Antitrust Immunity for the Media Is a Bad Idea

Stucke, Maurice E.,Grunes, Allen P. | November 14, 2010

The U.S. newspaper industry specifically and traditional media industries generally are in transition. In response to declining audiences and advertising revenue, many traditional media firms have laid off journalists and cut back on news. With their financial difficulties, some traditional media firms have called for greater leniency under the federal antitrust laws. Newspaper owners and journalists have called for greater antitrust immunity for joint advertising, joint fees for readership and accessing content online, and joint reporting. Others have called on the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to loosen further its Cross-Ownership Rules. Some politicians have suggested that the federal antitrust agencies give these traditional media firms “more leeway to merge or consolidate.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in recent hearings inquired as to whether antitrust immunity is necessary for newspapers’ collaboration and under what circumstances, if any, antitrust immunity for certain joint conduct could be justified.