Tag Archives: Antitrust

FCC Commissioner Urges Fraud Investigation Ahead of Net Neutrality Vote

Jessica Rosenworcel argued on Saturday that her own agency should be investigated for its fraudulent public comment process, days before a vote on net neutrality protections

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-10-2017

Protesters gathered at a Verizon store in MIssion Viejo, California on Thursday to demand the FCC uphold net neutrality rules. The demonstration was one of hundreds held all over the country. (Photo: Brendan Cleak—Team Internet/Flickr/cc)

Calls grew over the weekend for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate potential fraud regarding its call for public comments on net neutrality—before the panel votes on the issue on Thursday.

At Wired, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel—one of two Democrats on the commission who are expected to vote against a net neutrality repeal—raised alarm with an editorial about the integrity of the 23 million comments that have been left on the FCC’s website. Continue reading


‘Death Sentence for Local Media’: Warnings as FCC Pushes Change to Benefit Right-Wing Media Giant

Free press advocates say rule changes are “massive handout” to broadcaster Sinclair that would have far-reaching and negative impacts in communities nationwide

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-26-2017

Federal Communications Chairmain Ajit Pai continues to push through rollbacks that critics warn will enable major media companies to have an outsize influence on public opinion and fail to serve local communities. (Photo: USDA/Flickr/cc)

In a series of moves this week that have alarmed free speech advocates and critics of media consolidation, the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) voted to abolish a rule requiring radio and television broadcasters to maintain studios near the communities they serve, and FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced further plans to end certain media ownership rules.

The policy shifts are expected to significantly benefit the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group—whose reported close ties to Pai have raised concerns as the federal government reviews Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, which would expand the broadcaster’s reach to 72 percent of the country. Continue reading


As Tech Giants Threaten Democracy, Calls Grow for New Anti-Monopoly Movement

“It is time for citizens in America and all over the world to stand up to the bullies in our society, the monopolists.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-1-2017

“Americans are fed up with monopolies rigging our economy and politics,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). (Photo: takomabibelot/Flickr/cc)

A major Washington-based think tank’s decision to fire a prominent Google critic earlier this week brought to the surface the massive and “disturbing” influence large tech companies have on political debate in the U.S., leading many analysts and lawmakers to call for the creation of an anti-monopoly movement to take on the threat consolidated corporate power poses to the democratic process.

As Brian Fund and Hamza Shaban note in an analysis for the Washington Post, “funding of think tanks is just one way Silicon Valley is expanding its influence in Washington.” Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are also “regularly setting records in their spending on lobbying and are pushing as many as 100 issues—or more—every year.” Continue reading


Massive Corporate Consolidation of Local News Underway

By Anti-Media Staff. Published 5-12-2017 by The Anti-Media

Image: LittleRoughRhinestone [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In a deal that will allow one broadcasting company to reach 72 percent of U.S. households through ownership of local news stations, it was reported this week that Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying Tribune Media for nearly $4 billion.

Such a move wouldn’t have been possible a few weeks back, but Donald Trump’s new Federal Trade Commission (FCC) chairman, Ajit Pai, just began implementing sweeping changes to previously established media ownership rules. Bloomberg explains: Continue reading


The DuPont and Dow Chemical Merger: Bad Deal for People and the Planet

Groups are calling on the Department of Justice to reject the deal to protect food supply

By Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-11-2015

"Just a handful of large chemical companies including Dow and DuPont already control most of the seed supply used to grow crops like corn and soybeans, as well as the herbicides that genetically engineered seeds are designed to be grown with," said Wenonah Hauter of Food & Water Watch. (Photo: Desmanthus4food/Wikimedia/cc)

“Just a handful of large chemical companies including Dow and DuPont already control most of the seed supply used to grow crops like corn and soybeans, as well as the herbicides that genetically engineered seeds are designed to be grown with,” said Wenonah Hauter of Food & Water Watch. (Photo: Desmanthus4food/Wikimedia/cc)

Watchdog groups are sounding the alarm after two of the oldest and largest corporations in the United States—DuPont and Dow Chemical—announced Friday plans to merge into a $130 billion giant, thereby establishing the world’s biggest seed and pesticide conglomerate.

The new behemoth, named DowDuPont, would then be split into “three independent, publicly traded companies through tax-free spin-offs,” according to a joint corporate statement marking one of the the largest deals of 2015.

These companies would focus on agriculture, material science, and “technology and innovation-driven Specialty Products company,” the statement continues. Together, they would form the second-largest chemical company world-wide. Continue reading


In Biggest Tax Evasion Scheme of Its Kind, Big Pharma Becomes Behemoth

Mega-merger between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan could lead to higher drug prices, watchdogs warn

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-23-2015.

The so-called "corporate inversion" would allow Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan's home country of Ireland. (Photo: Chris Potter/flickr/cc)

The so-called “corporate inversion” would allow Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan’s home country of Ireland. (Photo: Chris Potter/flickr/cc)

Big Pharma just became Huge Pharma.

Creating the world’s largest drugmaker—and paving the way for higher pharmaceutical prices—Viagra-maker Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC, which manufactures Botox, said Monday that they would merge in a so-called inversion deal worth up to about $155 billion.

The takeover “would be the largest inversion ever,” according to the Wall Street Journal, allowing Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan’s home country of Ireland.

The LA Times reported that the deal “is likely to fuel critics’ concerns that consumers would pay even more for drugs as competition declines among manufacturers, insurers and retailers.”

As Gustav Ando, research director for the business information and consulting company IHS Life Sciences, told the Washington Post: “This merger isn’t meant to benefit patients, it isn’t meant to innovate in any kind of way…and certainly the benefits won’t be passed on to consumers.”

Addressing this aspect of the deal, presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Monday that the merger “would be a disaster for American consumers who already pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

What’s more, Sanders added, “[i]t also would allow another major American corporation to hide its profits overseas.”

While Pfizer cried poor in an effort to justify the merger—saying the U.S. corporate tax regime was forcing it to compete against foreign rivals “with one hand tied behind our back”—the coalition Americans for Tax Fairness showed earlier this month that the company had in fact “dramatically overstated its corporate tax rates” and was already enjoying a significant competitive advantage over those who pay their fair share.

And a Citizens for Tax Justice report released last month found that Pfizer has a stunning 151 subsidiaries in known foreign tax havens—more than all but five other Fortune 500 corporations.

As U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a speech on corporate tax reform last week, “Only one problem with the over-taxation story: It’s not true. There is a problem with the corporate tax code, but that isn’t it. It’s not that taxes are far too high for giant corporations, as the lobbyists claim. No, the problem is that the revenue generated from corporate taxes is far too low.”

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department unveiled new rules aiming to curb tax-lowering inversion deals. But even at the time, analysts said “there was scarce evidence they would stop the biggest inversion of them all, between Pfizer Inc and Allergan Plc.” The Obama administration has said Congressional action is necessary to eliminate corporate inversions for good.

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One Bad Apple

Photo by Joe Ravi [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Joe Ravi [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

While we were being distracted over the last couple months by stories of bridge closings, sporting events and the like, a few outlets actually found the time to do some real reporting on real news. One of the stories you probably missed is that of Michael Bromwich. You’re probably thinking “Michael who?” Michael is the Washington lawyer appointed by a Federal judge to monitor Apple to make sure they comply with antitrust regulations.

Last summer, Apple was caught conspiring with five publishers to fix prices for e-books. This in turn led to Judge Denise Cote assigning Bromwich to monitor Apple for compliance with antitrust laws. As part of his investigation, Bromwich has done what you’d expect him to do if he was doing his job by requesting interviews with Apple management (including Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO).

This has Apple up in arms. They’re arguing that by requesting these interviews, Bromwich is “interfering with their daily operations”, and is acting like an “unchecked independent prosecutor.” They also claim that he is “using the inquiry as a way to make money for himself and his consulting firm.” This charge’s logic escapes me to be honest; I thought that’s why lawyers were in the business- to make money.

And, Apple’s enlisted some strong allies in their fight against this “unwarranted interference.” The Wall Street Journal published an article screaming about government overreach and how Bromwich would be wanting to “disinter Steve Jobs” if he wasn’t stopped. But, why the panic? Why are Apple and their investors so determined to stop the investigation?

Maybe it’s because price fixing is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, Apple has a system in place where any apps for their mobile devices not purchased through the App Store can lead to Apple shutting off your device. They use special screws so that only Apple or your local Apple Care rep can open your device, thus eliminating competition when it comes to simple repairs like replacing a battery. Their practice of patenting everything under the sun to stifle competition in the smartphone market is well documented. They’ve also locked schools into using certain texts due to their dominance of the tablet market. We could also talk about Apple’s deplorable record as far as labor rights and safety in the Foxconn plants used to manufacture their devices go, but that’s a different subject (and future post).

At a hearing three weeks ago, Judge Cote told Apple to stop wasting time with its complaints and cooperate with Bromwich. She further said that if Apple had any problems with Mr. Bromwich, it was up to Apple to settle them with the Justice Department, and not for the court to do so. Will she hold firm? Let’s hope she does. Between banking most of its profits overseas to avoid paying taxes, its callous disregard of antitrust laws and its exploitation of its work force, Apple is the prime example of a good company gone bad.

It only takes one bad Apple to spoil the lot…