Unfortunately, however, it is probably illegal for newspapers to form a subscription consortium [enabling consumers to pay for web content through a one-stop subscription to hundreds of newspaper sites]. Antitrust law was written generations ago, when newspapers were local monopolies or duopolies. Today, of course, they compete with the whole Internet. The problem now is that they have too little market power, not too much.
Even so, antitrust law regards collective pricing as collusion. “There is a well-established tunnel vision in applying antitrust laws,” says Lee Simowitz, a media lawyer with Baker Hostetler in Washington. “Broader values don’t enter the equation.” Allowing newspapers to combine forces, he says, is “really up to Congress.” …
Sooner or later, newspapers will need to get their acts together — literally — and charge collectively for content, and it will be in the public’s interest to let them do so.
(“How to Save Newspapers–and Why”, National Journal, Jun. 14; will rotate off site).