The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
FTC withdraws from adjudication in fight with Meta over Within deal. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which lost a fight in court over whether Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc could buy VR content maker Within, has decided to withdraw the matter from its in-house adjudication. An FTC administrative law judge had scheduled a hearing for the matter for next week, which will now be canceled. But no final decision had been made on whether the agency will go forward at a later date.
A Fight Against Sludge. Sneaky fees have become a big part of America’s consumer economy. Hertz charges almost $6 a day simply for using a toll transponder in a rental car. Marriott and Hilton add nightly “resort fees” to the bill even at hotels that nobody would consider to be resorts. American, Delta and United list one airfare when you first search for a seat — and then add charges for basic features like the ability to sit next to your spouse. President Biden has announced a crackdown on these fees (which his administration calls “junk fees”), and he devoted a section of his State of the Union address to them.
JetBlue still hopes U.S. will not oppose Spirit merger. JetBlue officials are answering questions and giving depositions as the Justice Department presses on with its antitrust review of the company’s plan to buy Spirit, a small low cost rival, with a decision expected within weeks. “We want to be bigger. This is about jobs. This is about growth,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s president and chief operating officer, pledging that a bigger JetBlue would put make it harder for the four airlines with 80% of the U.S. market to raise prices.
NFL must face class action lawsuit over ‘Sunday Ticket’ prices. The U.S. National Football League must face a $6 billion class action alleging it unlawfully limited televised games and drove up the cost of its “Sunday Ticket” package, a U.S. judge ruled. Sunday Ticket lets subscribers watch local and out-of-market games on Sunday, while football fans otherwise in any given market can only see a limited number of games. The case will be divided into two sets of plaintiffs classes – individual Sunday Ticket residential subscribers and commercial establishments, such as hotels and bars. The judge’s ruling said the entire class is likely to continue to be subjected to defendants’ “anticompetitive restraints on telecasts”.
Edited by Gary J. Malone