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An Outrageous Merger

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Nicholas Johnson       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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It's outrageous that AT&T and Time Warner may be permitted to merge.

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Of course, there are antitrust issues.

If it's approved, some competitors will go out of business, others won't get started, and consumers will pay more and get less.

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Antitrust law is not designed to regulate anticompetitive behavior; it is designed to prevent anticompetitive behavior.

Permitting AT&T to acquire Time Warner would be like giving a small boy a ball and then saying, "Now don't bounce it" -- or hiring someone to watch him.

Regulation doesn't work. What's called "agency capture" is widespread and well documented. In the BP oil-spill case, it involved the regulators literally sleeping with the regulated. Even if an agency isn't captured it probably doesn't have enough personnel to do meaningful regulation. The FCC of my day had three employees to respond to 85,000 complaints, and they travelled in pairs.

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The only way to prevent anticompetitive corporate behavior is to forbid the mergers that make it possible.

But antitrust law and lawyers often have ways of finding adequate competition when no one else can see it. Moreover, the serious antitrust issues and economic impact of this proposed merger are the least of our concerns.

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Nicholas Johnson is best known for his tumultuous seven-year term as a Federal Communications Commission commissioner (1966-1973), while publishing How to Talk Back to Your Television Set, 400 separate FCC opinions, and appearing on a Rolling (more...)

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