Tipsheet: Former FTC appointee and Vanderbilt business school professor available for interviews on NBC/Comcast deal ramifications 

Luke Froeb, a Vanderbilt University business professor and former Chief Economist at the FTC said he sees very little horizontal overlap in the NBC/Comcast merger.

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Amy Wolf
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Vanderbilt University
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Dec 4, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Luke Froeb, a Vanderbilt University business professor and former Chief Economist at the FTC said he sees very little horizontal overlap in the NBC/Comcast merger. But that wouldn’t necessarily stop the Federal Communications Commission from asking for relief to assuage competitive and diversity concerns, said Froeb. 

He finds the prospect of the FCC uncovering an anti-trust issue unlikely in this case. “This is primarily a vertical merger where a content user buys a content provider,” he said. Unlike horizontal competitive overlaps, these cases typically do not raise competitive concerns. 

Froeb has conducted research into post-merger product repositioning, and finds that bringing more media outlets under common ownership actually increases diversity of programming. “When a firm buys competing media outlets, it ‘repositions’ the content to avoid cannibalizing audience share,” says Froeb.

Froeb also has testified before the FCC on media consolidation, advising them to adopt the same standards that the Justice Department uses to evaluate mergers.

He has appeared on an FCC panel on radio consolidation with Porter Wagoner, Dobie Gray and Naomi Judd.

His academic work has shown that merged firms have an incentive to increase diversity in programming: Gandhi, Amit, Luke Froeb, Steven Tschantz, and Gregory Werden, Post-Merger Product Repositioning, Journal of Industrial Economics, 41 (March, 2008) pp. 49-67. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1119635

Froeb has additional work regarding media ownership rules: 2006 Quadrennial Regulatory Review—Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, MB Docket No. 06-121, Joint Declaration of Luke Froeb, Padmanabhan Srinagesh and Michael Williams in support of Comments of Hearts-Argyle Television, Inc.

Regarding the controversial Ticketmaster/LiveNation merger in 2009, here is access to Froeb’s Written Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.

Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management is ranked as a top institution by BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more information about Owen, visit www.owen.vanderbilt.edu.