When you don’t have the FCC picking winners and losers, you have to compete

Right now, it is almost a national sport to hate the “mainstream media.” And with tone-deaf abandon, the mainstream media is just adding fuel to that fire. A few days ago, a group of billionaire newspaper owners decided to appeal to Capitol Hill to ask that Congress protect their profits from the big, bad, profit-eating monster called competition. Specifically, the newspaper men want Congress to write special legislation that permits newspaper owners to negotiate as a group when contracting with Google and Facebook. In the antitrust world, that is called collusive price fixing — and it is against the law. If the newspaper men can get the exception (like the National Football League did more than 50 years ago), they hope they can beat back the incredible market power of Google and Facebook in the advertising market. Of course, instead of seeking an antitrust exemption, the newspapers, like almost every other business, could try to compete in the marketplace on the merits of their product — but that’s a more difficult path.