Last week, the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger between internet-giant Amazon and Whole Foods, the original organic grocer. You may be surprised how quickly the merger passed regulatory muster, especially given the public’s desire for strong antitrust enforcement to promote vigorous competition and equity in our economy, including our digital one. You may be wondering: Is this a case of weak enforcement? Is it proof that today’s antitrust doctrine is useless for digital-age companies? Or are critics of growing digital market concentration simply wrong to express concern? My guess is “none of the above.” Here’s why.
Imagine if Comcast owned iHeartradio, the New York Times, and AT&T. And in many places, your only option for an Internet Service Provider is Comcast. Your news would be provided by Comcast. Your cable TV: Comcast. Your favorite radio stations: also Comcast. Scary, right? Yet, that is exactly what will happen in South America’s second largest economy, Argentina, if the proposed merger of Cablevision (the telecom branch of Grupo Clarín, Argentina’s largest media conglomerate) and Telecom (one of the two telecommunications companies resulting from the privatization of Argentina’s national monopoly in 1990) goes through.