THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has fined several firms including Samsung, Panasonic, Philips and LG €1.47bn for participating in cartels over cathode ray tubes (CRTs).
The EC levied the fines against most of the biggest names in the CRT business for participating in one or two cartels between 1996 and 2006. The EC's €1.47bn fine was handed down after it said the firms had "fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between themselves and restricted their output" of CRT units, with the commission claiming that the cartels were "among the most organised cartels" it has investigated.
With Chunghwa blowing the whistle and escaping the fine it was left to the others to carry the can, though other firms involved got partial reductions on fines. LG Electronics and Philips came out the worst, both getting hit with two fines with LG getting one for €295m and Philips €313m, while the two received a separate joint fine of €391m.
Samsung and Panasonic got hit with €150m and €157m, respectively, while two other Panasonic joint ventures were hit with €86m and €7m fines. Toshiba and Technicolor received the smallest fines, €38m and €28m, respectively.
Joaquín Almunia, who is the EC VP in charge of competition policy 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 [percent] 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."
That the EC finally managed to bring to book a number of CRT manufacturers for price fixing more than five years after the offences is welcome, but perhaps its actions would have been more helpful to consumers if CRTs were still widespread use. µ