Newspapers Gather In Secret (With An Antitrust Lawyer) To Collude Over Paywalls

From Techdirt:

You may have noticed a bunch of stories recently about how newspapers should get an antitrust exemption to allow them to collude -- working together to all put in place a paywall at the same time. That hasn't gone anywhere, so apparently the newspapers decided to just go ahead and try to get together quietly themselves without letting anyone know. But, of course, you don't get a bunch of newspaper execs together without someone either noticing or leaking the news... so it got out. And then the newspapers admitted it with a carefully worded statement about how they got together "to discuss how best to support and preserve the traditions of newsgathering that will serve the American public." And, yes, they apparently had an antitrust lawyer or two involved.

In the end, though, it won't matter. If a bunch of newspapers decide to lock up their content, they will only be digging their own graves. Smart newspaper execs will stay away and get all of the traffic. The wire services that compete with the Associated Press (such as Reuters, and CNN's new wire service) would be well served to put out a press release now hyping up the fact that their content is free. Other, smaller providers of news should trumpet how much they want people to come to them for news instead of paying, and then watch in amusement as the newspapers (whether it's an antitrust violation or not) discover both their advertising and their subscription money disappear.

Whether it's antitrust or not, it sure looks like collective suicide.