As was widely reported this week    , large news publishers are banding together to demand an antitrust exemption from Congress. According to the media trade group championing this effort, this would enable collusive bargaining in digital advertising.
The stated reason for news publishers demanding this get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to the nation’s antitrust laws? Technology has disrupted the newspaper industry, and Google and Facebook, publishers claim, are too tough to compete against. (Nevermind that News Corp., Verizon’s Oath, Snapchat, Twitter, and others all aim to do exactly that.)
With few exceptions, competitors colluding is almost always a violation of antitrust law. And for good reason – as courts have long recognized, there is almost no outcome good for consumers when competitors get together to decide their business strategy. Needless to say, antitrust regulators often oppose such exemptions (e.g., this recent example in Australia), and Congress rarely grants them. They are almost always coupled with other regulatory schemes that protect the consumer interest. MORE »