The Ad Hoc Approach to Telecommunications Mergers: The Public Interest Compromised?
CPI Antitrust Chronicle, November 2015 (1)
7 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 15, 2015
Competition, not regulation, is the preferred way of protecting consumer choice and innovation in telecommunications markets. The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department and the FCC have reached varying decisions with respect to telecommunications mergers, sometimes sacrificing competition. Two mergers that were allowed subject to regulatory conditions (Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal and AT&T's acquisition of Direct TV) undermine competition in one or more markets and, inevitably, increase the pressure for regulation. Industry-specific telecommunications antitrust guidelines can provide clarity and agency backbone in resisting compromise settlements that sacrifice competition and the public interest. Those guidelines should address the need for four or more competitors in vital telecommunications markets and the importance of preventing vertical integration and maintaining unbundled sales in promoting entry and consumer choice. Resolute antitrust enforcement is the only way to protect competition and obviate the need for second best regulatory intervention.
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