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US: John Oliver rips corporate mergers, Including HBO’s Time Warner tie up

 |  September 25, 2017

HBO host John Oliver, known for funny, influential dives into important but boring issues like net neutrality, spent an incisive fifteen minutes last night delving into another insider issue that’s gaining increasing public scrutiny–antitrust law. He made a lot of great points—but missed two important ones.

When not busy making Jim Cramer’s buttons produce fart sounds (classic), Oliver hammered on the impact of consolidation of the economy. Politicians talk big about small businesses as engines of growth and job creation, Oliver points out, but those same politicians don’t support that rhetoric by pushing regulators to rein in huge corporations that dominate entire sectors of the economy.

As Oliver elaborated, mergers often yield efficiencies for big companies, but they can also reduce consumer choice and even raise prices. For much of the segment, Oliver focused on the airline industry, where there are now just four major US players. That lack of choice lets them get away with things like baggage fees and abusing customers without serious consequence. Oliver’s take on airlines was a bit one-sided, though: deregulation, which largely triggered airline consolidation, has helped radically reduce airline ticket prices over the last three decades.