Philips, LG Electronics, Samsung SDI and three other firms have been fined a record $1.92 billion by EU antitrust regulators for fixing prices of TV and monitor cathode-ray tubes for close to a decade. The biggest of the lot was Philips, which has to pay a staggering 313.4 million euros, followed by LG Electronics with 295.6 million euro fine.
The other companies that the EU competition authority fined are Panasonic Corp, which has to pay 157.5 million euros, Samsung SDI with 150.8 million euros, Toshiba Corp. with 28 million euros, and French company Technicolor with 38.6 million euros.
Two Panasonic joint ventures have also been fined. The whole matter came into picture when Taiwanese firm Chunghwa Picture Tubes blew the whistle on the cartels in TV and computer monitors and was given a reprieve. The two cartels, one involving TVs and the other computer monitors, operated worldwide between 1996 and 2006, during which company executives discussed how to fix prices and share markets at “green meetings”, which generally involved a round of golf between the executives.
“These cartels for cathode ray tubes are ‘textbook cartels’: they feature all the worst kinds of anti-competitive behaviour that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe,” said Joaquin Almunia, commissioner, EU Competition in a statement. He also said that the violations were especially harmful for consumers, as cathode ray tubes account for 50 to 70 per cent of the price of a screen.
While over the years, the cathode ray tubes have been replaced by more advanced display technologies such as liquid-crystal display (LCD), plasma display and organic light-emitting diodes, still the impact of such could be harmful to the industry.