Michael Pascoe writes:

Scratch any red-blooded, capitalist
champion of free enterprise and yes, of course, they’d love to have a monopoly
and would stomp out competition whenever they get the chance.

Now it’s alleged Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp
is trying to do just that in the American newspaper insert market and News is
being sued for $US1.5 billion because of it.

According to Detnews.com, former Kerry Packer plaything Valassis Communications claims News “has followed the example of Al Capone in an attempt to
monopolize the newspaper insert market by using illegal, anti-competitive
tactics”:

The 26-page suit claims News America has threatened grocery store chains with
sharply higher prices on in-store coupons if it didn’t agree to distribute
newspaper coupons. The suit says threatened penalties have routinely exceeded
$1 million. It has also sold newspaper coupons below its net cost.

The suit opens with a passage that
described Paul Carlucci, the head of News America, exhorting his sales team by showing them
a violent scene from a mob movie. He stands “before his assembled sales
force and shows them a vignette from a motion picture. It is a scene from The Untouchables depicting mobster Al Capone beating one of his
enemies to death with a baseball bat. The message is obvious and irrefutable:
The News employees will operate in the business world with unbridled
aggression.”

Carlucci sounds like
Rupert’s sort of guy. Maybe that’s why he’s been promoted to be publisher of
the New York Post as well being chairman and CEO of News America Marketing.

News has a slight edge
over Valassis in the insert business, but it doesn’t sound like a cosy duopoly.

“Carlucci reflects
the mind-set of his boss, Rupert Murdoch. Carlucci himself has vowed to
‘destroy’ competitors who have the temerity to lawfully compete against the
News defendants,” according to the suit.

Oh well. At least the
cosy Packer/Murdoch relationship has been spared any embarrassment. Packer
bought Valassis in 1986 but sold it in two hits in 1992 and 1997.

Peter Fray

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