A Tuesday afternoon panel of the House Judiciary Committee focused on whether it’s time for Congress to rein in these companies, which are among the largest on Earth by several measures. Central to that case is whether their business practices run afoul of century-old laws originally designed to combat railroad and oil monopolies.
Justice’s Antitrust Confusion
The Wall Street Journal editorializes: “Google and Facebook are squeezing local news by gobbling up more and more advertising dollars. Yet the Justice Department is trying to stop local TV broadcasters from combining to become more competitive. Can the antitrust cops please stop protecting the Goliaths? Consolidation could help broadcast stations sustain local news coverage amid shrinking ad revenues, which would benefit consumers. The government’s job isn’t to
prop up cable monopolies. By trying to micromanage media mergers, antitrust regulators are merely shielding dominant players from competition.” Journal subscribers can read the full editorial here.
At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, news media associations accused the tech companies of jeopardizing the industry’s economic survival by putting news content on their platforms without fairly compensating them.
The precipitating event for Silicon Valley’s regulatory reckoning? A change in our political beliefs.
The Wall Street Journal reports the Justice Department is gearing up for an antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, a move that could present a major new layer of regulatory scrutiny for the search giant, according to people familiar with the matter. Journal subscribers can read the full story here.
DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim slots the event for May 2-3 and says the event may result in Justice changing how it looks not only at mergers, but also at spot advertising and retrans.
President Trump on Monday took aim at Comcast after a Fox Business Network article suggested the Department of Justice could investigate the cable giant for violating antitrust laws.
The Association of National Advertisers has issued a follow-up report to last month’s member missive confirming an FBI/U.S. Attorney’s Office probe into possible fraudulent media-buying conduct. Advertisers will need to conduct formal internal investigations before deciding whether to call the FBI. The new report details the potential crimes the FBI is looking into, including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
The station group said the consent decree resolves DOJ concerns about the sharing of advertising pacing with other station groups. The settlement does not include an admission of guilt or involve any monetary damages for fines, Sinclair said. Other station groups are said to have been drawn into the investigation, but no word on whether they have settled.
The Trump administration has been considering antitrust proceedings against Amazon, Facebook, and Google’s parent Alphabet.
The feds are getting ready to come knocking. On Oct. 10, the Association of National Advertising sent a letter to its members sharing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had contacted the ANA’s outside counsel Reed Smith LLP about assisting with its investigation into U.S. media buying practices. The ANA’s letter, signed by ANA CEO Bob Liodice, suggested next steps its members can take such as consulting with Reed Smith. Here’s what it’s all about.
Jessell | An Open Letter To Makan Delrahim
On behalf of TV broadcasters everywhere, I have written the assistant attorney general for antitrust, telling him to back off on his investigation of station groups that suggests they may be guilty of price fixing. His concern about market power in ad-supported media is misdirected and it’s exciting the bloodlust of bottom-feeding class-action lawyers.
A judicial panel has consolidated at least 18 antitrust suits against five TV station groups for allegedly colluding on spot pricing in the federal district court in Chicago. The defendants, which include Tribune, Sinclair and in some cases Gray, Hearst, Nexstar and Tegna, had pushed for the consolidation. The proliferatng suits are an outgrowth of a Justice Department review of the merger of Sinclair and Tribune, which was scuttled after the FCC found evidence of misrepresentation by Sinclair. (Free registration required.)
Antitrust restrictions placed on Comcast Corp. after its takeover of NBCUniversal are due to expire in a few days. But that doesn’t mean the Justice Department is done scrutinizing the company. The department’s antitrust division wrote a letter to Comcast this month warning that it would continue to monitor developments in how the company handles TV programming and distribution. It also asked for notice by Wednesday of any changes that the cable giant plans to make when the decree runs out on Sept. 1, according to the Aug. 14 letter.
Disney-Fox Is A Lousy Deal For Consumers
Can anyone with even the most nominal understanding of these businesses argue that having one company own the ESPN channel group along with the Fox regional sports channels would be good for consumers and competition?
In the opening round of the Justice Department’s suit to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, the parties disagree over when the trail should start and how long it should last. AT&T wants to get things going on Feb. 20 and wrap it up in 10 days. The DOJ argued for a May 7 start and 15 days.
If allowed by the Justice Department to proceed with its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T said it would submit to baseball-style arbitration to settle complaints that it is gouging other MVPDs on rates for Turner programming. The offer was made in filings in the DOJ’s suit to block the deal altogether.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s attorney general announced Monday that his office is investigating Google for potential violations of the state’s consumer-protection and antitrust laws. Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who also is running for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat in 2018, told reporters that he issued an “investigative subpoena” to the tech […]
DOJ’s Got It Right: Block AT&T-Time Warner
Satellite Business News Editor Bob Scherman: If it wants to protect American consumers and the public interest, the Justice Department must block AT&T’s attempt to swallow up Time Warner. No conditions would make the transaction beneficial to American consumers.
Even if the FCC relaxes its ownership rules, Sinclair and other broadcasters would still be blocked from owning two network affiliates in many cases by Justice Department antitrust regulators who have a cap of their own. It limits a broadcaster to controlling no more than 40% of the market’s broadcast TV revenue. So, Sinclair is waging a campaign to increase that percentage by changing the way regulators define the local market.
Wall Street thinks so. It knocked down Time Warner shares 4% yesterday on multiple reports that antitrust regulators were preparing to challenge the merger is court — a move that could lead to blocking the deal or loading up the merged company with conditions aimed at preventing anticompetitive conduct.
A member of President Donald Trump’s transition team, Makan Delrahim, will be nominated to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, the White House says. Delrahim is expected to move to Justice after finishing up in the White House counsel’s office, where he has worked to steer Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch through the Senate confirmation process.
Is Comcast using its muscle as the No. 1 cable provider to restrict competition and set local pay TV ad prices? The Justice Department’s antitrust unit is looking into this, and has asked the company for information.