Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Christopher H. Sterling
On several occasions during and since the twentieth century, antitrust (or antimonopoly) law has had important impacts on the news media business. Antitrust enforcement is designed to limit or break up monopolies. Yet many de facto media monopolies have existed for decades—monopoly metropolitan newspapers in most American markets, and monopoly cable television systems in many areas. The question is what triggers either a private or government antitrust decision. Two federal laws about a century-old dictate national antitrust policy (some states have antitrust authority within their own borders, but that rarely concerns media mergers). In 1890 the Sherman Antitrust Act, the country's first antimonopoly law, outlawed monopolies and monopolization, and said any contracts, combinations, or conspiracies in restraint of trade were illegal. Price fixing and profit pooling were also prohibited. The very short law awarded triple damages to successful claimants, and gave regulatory powers to the Justice Department which in 1903 ...