Lack of competition is a problem that needs to be rectified
The Justice Department has had little to say over a series of impending mergers that will limit competition and drive up prices for cable television and cell phone services. AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile and Comcast's acquisition of NBC/Universal haven't raised too many concerns among federal anti-trust watchdogs.
Those investigators are hot on the trail of another entity that, while an anti-competitive monopoly, poses little threat to the average consumer.
DOJ investigators last week asked the NCAA to explain why major college football is the only NCAA sport that does not have a playoff. Predictably, the NCAA punted, advising the investigators to ask the Bowl Championship Series.
The inquiry is the result of demands from representatives and senators from states where major college football teams have been denied shots at a national championship because they do not belong to BCS-affiliated conferences.
Those lawmakers are right. The system is ludicrous. Whether it is an appropriate subject for congressional or Department of Justice intervention is questionable, but so far the inquiry and related events have illuminated many aspects of the BCS travesty.
After the Arizona Republic exposed corruption within the Fiesta Bowl organization, investigators and news organizations have revealed the luxurious salaries and lifestyles enjoyed by many leaders of the principal BCS bowl organizations.
Several economists have analyzed the economic impact of the BCS system as opposed to a true playoff system. The BCS generates about $220 million a year, whereas estimates of a playoff system's spin-off range up to about $800 million.
If the DOJ determines the BCS to be a violation of anti-trust law, it should take appropriate action to correct the situation. Meanwhile, it should give at least as much attention to a growing series of consolidations in everything from communications to insurance, that adversely affect the everyday lives of all Americans.