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Behavioral Merger Remedies: Evaluation and Implications for Antitrust Enforcement

John E. Kwoka, Jr., Diana L. Moss, AAI White Paper Series, November 03, 2011.
NB: This article has been nominated by the Academic Steering Committee and readers for the academic category, mergers section of the 2012 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here for all winning-awards articles

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Readers vote is closed since March 1st, 2012. Readers’ vote has nominated 2 articles for each of the Awards. This short list has been communicated to the Board, with the articles nominated by the Steering Committees. The Board will decide on the award-winning articles on March 27, at the Awards ceremony to take place in DC. See vote results online here.

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The 2011 revision to the Antitrust Division Policy Guide to Merger Remedies signals a shift in the Department of Justice’s approach to merger remedies. The earlier Remedies Guide, issued in 2004, emphasized structural remedies such as divestitures as the preferred approach to resolving competitive problems with mergers. In contrast, the 2011 revision is considerably more favorably disposed toward the use of behavioral remedies that proscribe specified anticompetitive behaviors of the merged companies. This apparent policy shift is illustrated by the behavioral remedies employed by the DOJ in three recent merger cases – Ticketmaster-Live Nation, Comcast-NBCU, and Google-ITA. These three cases involve the use of multiple behavioral remedies, ranging from access conditions (e.g., licensing and non-discrimination requirements), firewalls, anti-retaliation provisions, to arbitration requirements, and provide for monitoring and compliance enforcement. The expansive new approach to behavioral remedies raises a number of concerns about their likely operation, effectiveness, and requirements for ongoing government monitoring and compliance enforcement. Many of these issues are similar to problems encountered in traditional industry regulation, ranging from countervailing incentives to implementation costs. Behavioral remedies also pose practical problems for antitrust enforcement. This paper identifies a number of issues that warrant attention and prompt some concern. Based on this early analysis, a number of observations and policy recommendations are offered.

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