FTC plans slotting fee hearings

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The Federal Trade Commission March 16 announced plans for a wide-ranging public workshop May 31 and June 1 to discuss antitrust implications of slotting fees and category management. The FTC has been under congressional pressure to examine the effect of such grocer fees on competition, and last week the commission brought its first-ever slotting fee enforcement action. The FTC said in a notice to be published in the Federal Register that while some slotting allowances are legal, others appear to be clearly unlawful as commercial bribery or in a gray area of legality. The FTC said it wants to know about the different kinds of allowances, whether grocers pass on the fees to customers, what effect the fees have on new-product development and innovation, whether fees are paid to obtain exclusivity and market power, what effect barring the fees would have, and whether category management practices raise antitrust concerns. A copy of the formal notice is on the FTC's Web site.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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