MEDIA: Media Watch - Microsoft: media torn over solution to monopoly

There was a flurry of media coverage when US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson released his findings of fact in the Microsoft anti-trust law suit.

There was a flurry of media coverage when US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson released his findings of fact in the Microsoft anti-trust law suit.

There was a flurry of media coverage when US District Court Judge

Thomas Penfield Jackson released his findings of fact in the Microsoft

anti-trust law suit.



CARMA found that although few newspapers debated Jackson’s finding that

Microsoft has a monopoly in PC operating systems, there was considerable

debate about what should be done as a remedy.



Whether or not the editorials agreed with Judge Jackson’s findings, the

majority advocated that the case be settled out of court. Among the many

newspapers that recommended that a settlement be negotiated were The New

York Times (November 6), the Washington Post (November 7), the Los

Angeles Times (November 8) and the Boston Globe (November 9). All of

these newspapers felt it was in Microsoft’s best interest to participate

in such a momentous decision regarding its future rather than have its

future decided for it by a judge who has expressed such distaste for the

company’s business practices.



Even the Seattle Times (November 9), the leading newspaper from

Microsoft’s home state, published an unequivocally entitled editorial:

’Microsoft must settle this case.’



Although many suspected that Jackson would not be sympathetic to

Microsoft, many editorials noted how harshly worded Judge Jackson’s

findings were.



Many pointed out that, from Microsoft’s point of view, the judge’s tone

did not bode well for the eventual verdict in the case. The Washington

Post (November 7) observed, ’It’s hard to imagine how the findings of

fact ... could have been worse news for Microsoft.’



The editorials frequently voiced support for the findings, with many

forecasting increased innovation and competition as a result of the

government’s regulation. Among the most rabidly supportive of Judge

Jackson’s findings was the Sacramento Bee (November 9), which wrote,

’Jackson’s findings have outlined extreme abuse, and extreme measures

will be needed to correct that.’



But many of the editorials appeared torn over exactly how to remedy the

situation: several noted that industry developments have outpaced the

regulatory proceedings. And some of the editorials that agreed that

Microsoft had abused its monopoly power opposed breaking up the company.

Others reminded Judge Jackson that any remedy should not only bring

competition but also benefit consumers.



Although Jackson sided with the prosecution in virtually all of his

findings of fact, editorials such as those published in the (Cleveland)

Plain Dealer (November 9) argued that the findings ’constitute an attack

on core principles of free enterprise.’ The Rocky Mountain News, the

Detroit News and the Washington Times (all November 9) also rallied

around Microsoft as a champion of free markets and innovation. While

these views were in the minority, they argued forcefully that the

government should not penalize Microsoft.



Overall, the editorials agreed with the judge’s findings and thought a

negotiated settlement would be in the best interests of Microsoft, the

government, the economy and consumers. But few thought that a settlement

would occur any time soon.



Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found

at www.carma.com.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.