Dec. 5 - Six major electronics firms including Philips and LG Electronics have been fined a record 1.47 billion euros ($1.92 billion) by EU antitrust regulators for fixing prices of TV and monitor cathode-ray tubes for nearly a decade. Joanne Nicholson reports.
A whopping 1.47 billion euros is today's Daily Digit in Europe - the size of a record fine for price fixing by key electronics companies. The Dutch firm Philips was hit hardest by the European Commission penalty - it must pay 313m euros. EU anti-trust regulators said it, and others, had fixed the price of cathode-ray tubes used in televisions and monitors for nearly a decade. LG Electronics received the next largest penalty at just under 300 million euros. Panasonic and Samsung were fined just over half that. And Toshiba and France's Technicolor must pay almost 70 million euros between them. Two Panasonic joint ventures were also fined.. Taiwanese firm Chunghwa Picture Tubes blew the whistle and escaped a fine as a result. They said there was one cartel for TVs and another for computer monitors. It operated across the globe between 1996 and 2006 Company executives discussed how to fix prices and share markets at get togethers called "green meetings" because they often ended with a round of golf. EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the cartels featured all the worst kinds of anti-competitive behaviour that were strictly forbidden in Europe. Cathode ray tubes have largely been replaced by more advanced technologies like liquid crystal, plasma or light-emitting displays. But consumers would have been hit hard by the price fixing as they make up between 50 and 70 percent of the price of a old-style screen.