The United States anti-trust laws were enacted to preserve competition and the free enterprise system. Those laws apply equally to non-profit and for-profit activities. It is the policy of CMB to strictly comply with the requirements of the antitrust laws.
CMB also expects its members to strictly adhere to the requirements of the antitrust laws. CMB members are personally responsible for understanding the requirements of those laws and assuring that they remain compliant. Because of the scope and intricacy of the antitrust laws, CMB members and staff must understand and be sensitive to those areas where potential antitrust issues might arise. Any CMB members who violate these guidelines, the antitrust laws, or have, in the opinion of the CMB board, acted in a manner that is detrimental to the interests of CMB shall be subject to disciplinary measures up to, and including, termination of membership.
The antitrust laws make it illegal to enter into certain agreements that limit competition. While this may happen in a number of different contexts, the two areas that are of tradition concern are: price fixing; and, market allocation. In order to find a violation of the antitrust laws one need not prove that a formal agreement exists. A “wink and a nod” are sufficient when coupled with activity consistent with an agreement. As a result, any discussion among “competitors” of prohibited topics, like pricing, can provide the basis upon which to assert (and subsequently find) a violation of the antitrust laws. Even if one can successfully defend against an asserted claim, the legal cost of doing so would be crippling.
For these reasons, it is important the CMB members refrain from discussing topics which could support a charge that the antitrust laws had been violated. In practical terms, that means that CMB members should avoid all discussion of the following topics:
- Prices, rates, or rate structures for air time including underwriting rates;
- Quantity, placement or standardization of non-price terms respecting the sale of air-time or underwriting including information respecting credit terms;
- Allocating markets or formats among broadcasters, or discussions which generally suggest that broadcasters will not compete against one another;
- Refusal to deal with certain other organization.
If a discussion occurs at a CMB meeting or event which violates these guidelines or can border on antitrust sensitivity, the discussion should be immediately stopped. If others continue the discussion you should leave the meeting. Any such instances should be reported immediately to the Executive Director or any CMB board member.