As federal agencies examine the AT&T - Time Warner merger, how we analyze antitrust also needs to be reevaluated - especially in the telecommunications industry. A new report from the Roosevelt Institute takes a closer look at how antitrust enforcement philosophy has changed and how that change has enabled the current state of telecommunications in which a few large anticompetitive players control the market. The authors offer recommendations and cautionary predictions that may arise if we continue without reassessing how we scrutinize these large scale mergers.
The report notes how scrutiny of mergers has come to depend on the perceived harm the results will have on consumers, but such a narrow focus results in harming competition.
Instead, regulators should adopt a more holistic view of market power, specifically incorporating analysis of upstream impact of anticompetitive behaviors, especially those enabled by mergers. This would entail closer scrutiny of vertical mergers, positive price discrimination, and non-price-based schemes to profit excessively by withholding access to consumers.