Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Antitrust News: U.S. v. Univision

The regulatory apologists at the American Antitrust Institute recently filed their Tunney Act comments on the Univision acquisition of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation. They offer this gem:

Consider the following hypothetical. There is a substantial group of Americans who only speak Spanish and whose sources of information are limited to Spanish-speaking TV, Spanish-speaking radio, and Spanish-speaking newspapers. A single corporation by acquisition gains control over all three media. The head of that corporation would be in the position to wield enormous political and economic influence by determining what the Spanish-speaking community will know and believe. He or she could determine what political candidates will gain exposure to the Spanish-speaking electorate and whether that exposure will be positive, negative, or neutral. Being able to sway a substantial part of the Hispanic vote could determine the outcome of local, state, and national elections and the owner of this political power would be in position to make deals with a political party and with an Administration. The same corporation could dramatically influence within the Spanish-speaking community which cultural trends, products and services will be ignored, denigrated or positively portrayed, thereby having a significant impact on the economy. This is the Hypothetical of a Dominating Voice.
Of course, AAI ignores the Reality of the Dominating Regulator. Somehow the actions of businessmen in the free market are a coercive threat, and only the edits antitrust regulators reflect what the market "ought" to do.

Borrowing from AAI's style, a regulator by legislative fiat gains control over every transaction in American business. The head regulator would be in the position to wield enormous political and economic influence by determining what business transactions are allowed and not allowed. The regulator could provide favors to his or her constituency of consumers at the expense of the smaller constituency of businessmen. Being able to sway a substantial part of the vote could determine the outcome of local, state, and national elections and the owner of this political power would be in position to make deals with a political party and with an Administration.

Of course, as we all know, that would never happen.

No comments: