By Thomas Lenard
Published in Real Clear Policy on August 7, 2017
“The $2.7 billion fine the European Union imposed on Google for violating European antitrust law led the Washington Post editorial board to observe that “Brussels vs. Google…seems to be a case of punishment without crime.” Nevertheless, the Post, part of the News Media Alliance, seems to have conducted its own investigation of Google, Facebook, and other platforms and concluded that Congress should exempt newspapers from antitrust enforcement. The rationale for this exemption is to allow newspapers to bargain collectively with “dominant online platforms.”
The newspaper industry is, indeed, struggling. But allowing competitors to collude is not the answer.
Newspapers have asked for special antitrust treatment before. The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 provided a partial exemption to antitrust laws, ostensibly for the purpose of maintaining competing newspapers in local markets. The Act has had mixed reviews to say the least. But it did have the plausible defense of allowing newspapers to improve productivity by sharing printing and distribution expenses.
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