Senator Torpedoes Watchdogs’ Media Merger Swap

22 May 2002

US Senator Ernest F Hollings (Democrat, South Carolina) has scuppered a cosy deal between the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, in which oversight of media mergers would pass from the former to the latter.

Claiming that the move was in the consumer interest, the two departments said it would end internecine squabbles as to who was responsible for merger rulings, with merger applications referred to the officials best experienced in media matters.

Hollings, however, disagreed and as chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, threatened to slash both agencies’ funding.

Says Hollings of his victory: “I think it's appropriate they abandoned this agreement. The FTC has broad discretion to protect consumers in merger reviews, whereas the Justice Department is looking for crime. The FTC protects the public interest.”

Data sourced from: (USA); additional content by WARC staff