The Role of Media in Antitrust: Evidence from China

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This Article examines the media, a neglected but important institution that plays a role in influencing Chinese antitrust enforcement. Drawing from the methodology used in communication studies, the Article conducted a content analysis of 1,394 news reports on six high-profile Chinese antitrust investigations from 2008 to 2015. The findings demonstrate that in reporting antitrust investigations, Chinese media tends to be biased against firms under investigation. Instead of providing a balanced and objective account of the story, the media was an effective conduit for amplifying the populist concern, and aided and abetted the regulator in advancing its enforcement. The Article argues that such an outcome is driven by at least three factors: the regulator’s strategic leakage of information to state-controlled media, the rarity of public dissents of agency decisions, and the populist pressures for lower prices and nationalism.