Merger Review by the Federal Communications Commission: Comcast–NBC Universal

Merger Review by the Federal Communications Commission: Comcast–NBC Universal The Communications Act of 1934 created a dual review process in which mergers in the communications industry are reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as the antitrust authorities. Commentators have criticized dual review not only as costly and redundant, but also as subject to substantive and procedural abuse. The process of clearing the 2011 Comcast–NBC Universal merger provides a useful case study to examine whether such concerns are justified. A review of the empirical context reveals that the FCC intervened even though the relevant markets were not structured in a way that would ordinarily raise anticompetitive concerns. In addition, the FCC was able to use differences between its review process and that used by the Justice Department to extract concessions from the merging parties that had nothing to do with the merger and which were more properly addressed through general rulemaking. Moreover, the use of voluntary commitments also allowed the FCC to avoid subjecting certain aspects of its decision to public comment and immunized it from having to offer a reasoned explanation or subjecting its decision to judicial review. The aftermath of the merger provides an opportunity to assess whether the FCC’s intervention yielded consumer benefits. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Industrial Organization Springer Journals

Merger Review by the Federal Communications Commission: Comcast–NBC Universal

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Economics / Management Science; Industrial Organization; Microeconomics
ISSN
0889-938X
eISSN
1573-7160
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11151-014-9437-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The Communications Act of 1934 created a dual review process in which mergers in the communications industry are reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as the antitrust authorities. Commentators have criticized dual review not only as costly and redundant, but also as subject to substantive and procedural abuse. The process of clearing the 2011 Comcast–NBC Universal merger provides a useful case study to examine whether such concerns are justified. A review of the empirical context reveals that the FCC intervened even though the relevant markets were not structured in a way that would ordinarily raise anticompetitive concerns. In addition, the FCC was able to use differences between its review process and that used by the Justice Department to extract concessions from the merging parties that had nothing to do with the merger and which were more properly addressed through general rulemaking. Moreover, the use of voluntary commitments also allowed the FCC to avoid subjecting certain aspects of its decision to public comment and immunized it from having to offer a reasoned explanation or subjecting its decision to judicial review. The aftermath of the merger provides an opportunity to assess whether the FCC’s intervention yielded consumer benefits.

Journal

Review of Industrial OrganizationSpringer Journals

Published: Aug 29, 2014

References

  • Vertical ownership, program network carriage, and tier positioning in cable television: An empirical study
    Chen, D; Waterman, D
  • Vertical integration, market foreclosure, and consumer welfare in the cable television industry
    Chipty, T
  • Horizontal concentration and vertical integration in the cable television industry
    Ford, GS; Jackson, JD

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