Antirust Law: I Like A Little Competition

2526 words - 10 pages

“Antitrust law isn't about protecting competing businesses from each other, it's about protecting competition itself on behalf of the public.” This quote by politician Al Franken reveals the core of antitrust law intention. When firms collude, not only are other businesses hurt through increased barrier to entry, but consumers are often forced to pay higher prices for goods that may lack quality. Competition benefits consumers, creating fair prices based off of market supply and demand, and provides an incentive for companies to decrease prices and increase quality. For these reasons, a healthy economic market in which firms can compete to acquire ownership of new resources and have the ability to enter into new markets, needs to be supported by enforceable laws. Antitrust laws have become an integral part of how modern businesses operate in increasingly more complex markets and legal systems. Throughout this report, I will provide a brief history of antitrust law, discuss some of the applicable laws and regulations which apply to modern firms within the broadcasting and cable industry, and provide analysis on the ongoing case of the Comcast- Time Warner Cable merger.
The wording antitrust can be a little misrepresenting. A trust occurs when a trustee takes fiduciary responsibility over the property of a beneficiary. These agreements are very common in the establishment of funds for beneficiaries that are incapable of managing their own funds, like college funds. The current antitrust laws in place are not intended to prevent the formation of traditional trusts, but rather the business application of trusts that inhibit competition. Our market is dependent on competition to drive producers to innovate, keep costs low, and ultimately benefit the consumer. Anticompetitive behavior is most often pursued through the strategies of horizontal price fixing or vertical price fixing. Horizontal price fixing involves an agreement between competitors to set prices at a certain level, which opposes the ideals of the free market and ultimately hurts the consumer. Vertical price fixing involves controlling the price of inputs to ultimately affect the final retail price. Both restrict competition and violate the system of supply and demand in the free market.
Large scale collusion in the form of trusts first became prevalent late in the 19th century due to the activities of oil titan Standard Oil. Standard Oil created the first trust, in which the ownership of multiple companies was placed in the hands of Standard Oil. This allowed stockholders of several oil companies to trade their stocks in for Standard Oil trust certificates. The companies would then be managed by the board of trustees set up by Standard Oil, essentially creating a monopoly (Sherman). Standard Oil’s activities were harmful to competition, making a nearly impenetrable barrier to entry. The Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, which was...

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