OLD Media Moves

ABC's gas coverage misses the point

August 9, 2006

Ken Shepherd of the Business and Media Institute critiqued a story on higher gas prices on ABC’s Good Morning America show on Tuesday and noted that the reporter, who recommended that consumers report suspected price gouging, missed the point.

Shepherd wrote, “While [correspondent Dan] Harris seemed to be suggesting calling the authorities to report alleged price gouging, an alternative to a government investigation would be to report high gas prices to any number of gas price-watching Web sites, such as gasbuddy.com, fuelmeup.com, or gaspricewatch.com. Giving other consumers information on prices could help fuel price competition.

“Indeed, the notion that price gouging is a rampant problem has been overblown. While the media have often latched onto allegations of price gouging, particularly following Hurricane Katrina, an extensive investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released on May 22 refuted the allegations.

“In that study, the FTC found only 15 instances that appeared at first glance to fit the definition of price gouging but ‘regional or local market trends’ accounted for the high prices ‘in nearly all cases,’ according to an FTC press release.

“What’s more, higher prices play a key role in rationing scarce goods and services and in helping to correct shortages in the long term.”

Read more here.

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