Thursday, January 29, 2009
Toward a Better Competition Policy for the Media: The Challenge of Developing Antitrust Policies that Support the Media Sector's Unique Role in Our Democracy
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Maurice E. Stucke, University of Tennessee College of Law and Allen P. Grunes, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP have a new paper on Toward a Better Competition Policy for the Media: The Challenge of Developing Antitrust Policies that Support the Media Sector's Unique Role in Our Democracy.
ABSTRACT: It is difficult to formulate meaningful competition policy when there is a fierce debate over the current competitiveness of the media industry. After addressing the importance of the marketplace of ideas in our democracy, our article examines the current state of the media industry, including the response of traditional media to audience declines, the growth of new media, the impact of media consolidation (including its impact on minority and women ownership), and the role of the Internet. In response to recent calls for liberalizing cross-ownership rules to protect traditional media, our article outlines why conventional antitrust policy is difficult to apply in media markets, and how the concerns underlying media mergers differ from other industries. Our article recommends that Congress should take the lead in formulating a national media policy. This new legislation should (1) promote, or at least not diminish, the media's contribution to the marketplace of ideas; (2) have antitrust merger policies complement FCC policy, which together should provide some of the necessary legal framework for a vibrant marketplace of ideas; and (3) understand from a 21st Century perspective, all of the values, including noneconomic values, such as localism and diversity, that are important to preserving a healthy marketplace of ideas.