Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Morning Brief: UK Chancellor predicts more contraction of the UK economy for 2012; the FCC delays ruling on cross ownership rules; EU commission levies record fines on screen producers

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne gave his fall statement in the House of Commons, giving MPs the bad news that the UK economy is now predicted to contract in 2012. Yet onwards the British government will march, continuing its policies that have not yet gotten the country out of recession.

Current GDP projections are that the economy will contract 0.1 percent in 2012, but will grow 1.2 percent in 2013, 2 percent in 2014 and 2.3 percent in 2015. All these estimates are revisions down from previous projections, and not exactly reflecting a booming economy. But onward the government goes.

In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Tuesday that it would take more comments on its new proposed cross-ownership rules, delaying a vote until at least January.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is proposed easing rules that prevent the same media company from owning a television station in the same market when the media company owns a daily newspaper. The proposed changes would make it easier for a media firm to own multiple properties, so long as the televisions station is not in the top four stations in the market.

The new rules have drawn fire, however.

“These rules were put in place and have remained in place because they support diversity, competition, and localism in the public interest,” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said in a letter criticizing the new proposals.

A EU commission today levied huge fines on cathode ray producers, accusing the first of forming a cartel. The fines of €1.47 billion, or almost $1.96 billion, will be levied against Philips, LG Electronics, Samsung SDI, Toshiba and Panasonic.

The firms are accused of fixing the price of cathode ray tubes used in televisions and computer screens, though the technology has pretty much been replaced by LED flat screens.