In this issue:
We’re looking at two volatile media questions—the hotly debated Comcast/Time Warner merger in the U.S. and media plurality in the U.K. Understanding the Comcast merger requires an appreciation that the diverse services the company provides—pay television, broadband, and content—create horizontal & vertical merger issues plus a variety of possible remedies. And, as the U.K. drafts new plurality regulations, there is an intriguing question: Can antitrust lessons be used to measure possible problems, create remedies, and overcome possible bias?
The Comcast-Time Warner Proposed Merger
Notwithstanding Comcast’s and TWC’s assertions, combining two monopolies does not yield better service, lower retail prices, more innovation, and greater choices for consumers. Allen P. Grunes (GeyerGorey LLP) & Maurice E. Stucke (Univ. of Tennessee College of Law)
Properly understood, the proposed Comcast/TWC merger presents no competitive concerns. Geoffrey Manne (International Center for Law and Economics)
It would serve competition and antitrust if the antitrust agency didn’t have the option of the shiny, but dangerous, tool known as a conduct remedy. Jarod Bona (Bona Law PC)
The agencies likely will focus their reviews of potential anticompetitive effects on how the expansions of the pay television and broadband networks affect Comcastâ€™s incentives in dealing with content providers. Jamillia Ferris & Amanda Wait (Hunton & Williams LLP)
While most transactions are challenged because they are alleged to have unilateral or coordinated effects, whether this cable deal is challenged may turn on vertical issues. Adam J. Miller (Fredrikson & Byron)
The fate of Comcast-Time Warner Cable is almost an afterthought for web content creators, who are facing a much more existential threat. Anant Raut
Media Plurality Regulation – Antitrust Lessons
At the level of measurement, and, particularly, in the choice of remedies, there are lessons to be learned from competition law which can be applied to the regulation of plurality. Martin Cave (Imperial College Business School & the U.K. Competition Commission)
Does Ofcom Offer a Credible Solution to Bias in Media Public Interest Mergers in the United Kingdom?
Should a conflict arise between the findings of the CMA and Ofcom on whether or not to permit the merger, the Ofcom Board would be tasked with balancing the conflicting interests and reaching a final decision – this is where the integrity of the proposed new regime begins to unravel. David Reader (Univ. of East Anglia Law School)