ISER Discussion Paper, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University 787
In Japan, newspapers enjoy a special exemption from antimonopoly prohibitions against resale price maintenance (suppliers' stipulations that bar downstream firms from price discounting), but are each required to set uniform prices throughout Japan. In fact, the newspapers have rarely changed their subscription prices in recent years, and the three leading national dailies, together accounting for about half the total industry circulation, and thirteen other papers accounting for another one eighth of industry circulation, all have set exactly the same price (3,925 yen per month). The remaining local papers all set lower prices. The authorized resale price maintenance, and prohibition against prices that vary geographically, have allowed collusive price increases that I here estimate to be around 500 yen per month, entailing economic waste of about 300-billion yen ($3-billion) per year but adding only around 16-billion yen per year to newspaper profit. The increased profit margin on subscriptions is much offset by reduced sale of ads.