TV price fixing in Europe: companies hit with AU$1.8bn fine

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Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

LG, Panasonic, Samsung and more have found themselves in hot water over cathode ray tube price fixing for TVs and monitors.

Joaquín Almunia speaks to the press about the ruling.
(Credit: EC)

Yes, cathode ray tubes. The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they keep on turning, apparently. The European Commission (EC) has levelled a record €1.47 billion (AU$1.8 billion) fine at LG, Philips, Panasonic and Samsung for "acting as cartels" when it came to the pricing and manufacturing of the said tubes. Toshiba and Technicolor were also named, and fined smaller amounts.

According to the EC, the companies spent nearly two decades with "fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between themselves and restricted their output", all to the detriment of consumers.

Another company, Chunghwa, was also named, but it was let off without a fine, due to the fact that it was the whistleblower that alerted the EC to the cartel.

In a statement to the press, EC vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said:

These cartels for cathode ray tubes are "textbook cartels": they feature all the worst kinds of anticompetitive behaviour that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe. Cathode ray tubes were a very important component in the making of television and computer screens. They accounted for 50 to 70 per cent of the price of a screen. This gives an indication of the serious harm this illegal behaviour has caused both to television and computer screen producers in the EEA, and ultimately the harm it caused to the European consumers over the years.

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