WHAT THE FTC WANTS TO FIND OUT

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission's report on slotting fees, issued last month, recommended five particular areas that need additional study to determine whether they pose a threat to competition:ay-to-stay fees. These practices "could give rise to competitive challenges but often will not," the report said. It recommended a selective study of the topic.Price and promotional discrimination.

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission's report on slotting fees, issued last month, recommended five particular areas that need additional study to determine whether they pose a threat to competition:

ay-to-stay fees. These practices "could give rise to competitive challenges but often will not," the report said. It recommended a selective study of the topic.

Price and promotional discrimination. While the report noted that this topic was "beyond the scope of the workshop," it said it does require further examination, although "any guidance in this area should be framed very carefully to avoid inhibiting individualized bargaining and free competition."

Category management and captains. The report was ambivalent on this issue, as well. It observed that category management "can produce important efficiencies," but also warned that it "carried the potential for competitively troublesome exchanges of information."

Merger enforcement. The report urged the FTC to "remain alert" for the potential of mergers to allow retailers to pressure their suppliers as well as increase consumer prices. It is recommended the commission "exercise care" in ordering divestitures, so that efforts to "cure downstream [consumer] competitive problems do not inadvertently create upstream [manufacturer or supplier] problems of their own."