FTC, DOJ Propose Changes To Antitrust Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are seeking comment on a couple of proposed changes to the automatic Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) antitrust reviews, which are required of large mergers (ones valued at at least $94 million). The FTC and DOJ divide up antitrust reviews, with DOJ generally handling the media merger reviews.

FTC Expands Merger Approval Lookbacks

The Federal Trade Commission is expanding its retrospective analysis into the impact of mergers it has approved over the past three-plus decades. That comes as both the FTC and Department of Justice are looking at whether Big Tech mergers that got pro forma sign-offs because they were not large enough to trigger antitrust reviews should have been captured by competition reviews.

FTC Slaps Ad Agency With $2 Million Fine

Marketing Architects Inc., a Minneapolis-based advertising agency that created and disseminated allegedly deceptive radio ads for weight-loss products marketed by its client, Direct Alternatives, has agreed to pay $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission and State of Maine Attorney General’s Office to settle their complaint.

Simons Is Trump’s Pick For FTC Chairman

Antitrust lawyer Joseph Simons is President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Trade Commission, according to three people familiar with the decision. Simons is co-chairman of the antitrust group at the law firm Paul Weiss and served as director of the FTC’s competition bureau during the George W. Bush administration.

Dish Ruling Includes 20-Year Injunction

In addition to having to pay a $280 million fine for robocalls, a federal judge’s Monday decision also includes a 20-year permanent injunction that could severely limit the company’s ability to market its services by telephone in the future. And since the injunction applies to the company, not just Dish Network’s DBS service, it could seriously restrict Dish Network from selling other services—such as its Sling TV on-line offering, its cell phone repair service, and the installation of off-air TV antennas— using traditional telemarketing methods.

Dish Hit With $280M In Fines For Robocalls

A federal judge in Illinois on Monday ordered Dish Network to pay $280 million in penalties to the U.S. government and four states in an eight-year-old “robocall” telemarketing lawsuit. In what may be the largest ever monetary judgment in a robocall case, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough required Dish to pay $168 million to the U.S. government and $112 million to North Carolina, California, Ohio and Illinois over what the judge said were “millions and millions” of calls.

FTC Launches Drive To Reduce Regs

The Federal Trade Commission says it’s getting to work cutting down its regulatory footprint in line with President Trump’s agenda. Earlier this year, President Trump directed all executive branch agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one created. The FTC as an independent agency not covered by the executive order, but Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen said she welcomed the president’s directive.

FTC Faces Big Changes With Trump

President Trump must fill three vacant commissioner seats and decide on a chairman — moves that Republicans hope could push the regulatory agency in a business-friendly direction.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Federal Trade Commission Needs A Reboot

The agency’s antitrust policy isn’t up to the challenges of the 21st century. The Federal Trade Commission is an agency adrift, squandering resources on trivial cases while failing to address the structural lack of competition that afflicts our economy. Here’s how to fix it.

IAB Concerned Over FTC Native Ad Guidelines

Sensing imminent regulation of native advertising, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is asking the Federal Trade Commission to proceed with caution. Threatening the future of native ads, the agency said it believed that online ads can be deceptive when they are formatted to closely resemble news stories or other editorial content.

FTC Moves To Stop Deception With Native Ads

The Federal Trade Commission’s new rules lay out for the first time how advertisers and publishers should deploy and label native ads.

FTC To Convene Privacy Conference

The Federal Trade Commission is calling for original research into privacy and security issues, including how “vulnerabilities” might be exploited to harm consumers. The agency will address the research on Jan. 14 at a conference about privacy. “We want to increase the FTC’s engagement with the technology community in order to more effectively encourage innovation that is protective of consumer privacy and security,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said.

FTC Sets Unfair Competition Guidelines

In a significant policy move, the Federal Trade Commission this week adopted guidelines for how it will police companies that try to compete unfairly in the marketplace.

FTC Beefs Up Its Technology Expertise

he Federal Trade Commission is embracing its nickname as the Federal Technology Commission, opening up a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation.

FTC Takes DirecTV To Court Over Ads

Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that its complaint charges DirecTV Inc. with deceptively advertising a discounted 12-month programming package. Consumers weren’t clearly told that the package requires a two-year contract, the commission said.

Court Finds Dish Violated Telemarketing Rule

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois has found Dish Network liable for tens of millions of calls that violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. The opinion, which was issued on Dec. 12, 2014, represents a partial summary judgment win in the case the Department of Justice filed on behalf of the FTC against Dish in March 2009.

FTC Taps Washington Post Reporter For Tech Role

Washington’s Most Powerful Technology Cop

“The Federal Trade Commission is becoming, for better or for worse, the Federal Technology Commission,” said Geoffrey Manne, executive director of the International Center for Law and Economics, at a recent Washington conference. On Friday, the FTC turns 100 years old. Here’s the story of how it became Washington’s go-to technology fixer.

Senate Confirms Terrell McSweeny To FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is back up to its full strength Wednesday after the Senate voted 95-1 to confirm Terrell McSweeny to be the third Democratic commissioner on the five-member agency, giving the Democrats on the commission a majority. Having five commissioners is critical to merger rulings, which require a majority vote to block or intervene in a transaction.

Nissan Settles FTC Deceptive Ad Case

Nissan has agreed to settle deceptive advertising charges made by the FTC over a 30-second ad. In it, a little black dune buggy can be seen stuck in sand on a steep hill. Suddenly, a red Frontier speeds to the rescue of the dune buggy and pushes it up and over the hill, to the cheers of amazed onlookers. And no, the Frontier pickup can’t really do that. In fact, the FTC complaint says both the truck and the buggy were dragged to the top of the hill by cables.

FTC Warns Media About Deceptive Diet Ads

Sensa and L’Occitane are among those ordered to pay millions as the agency calls on TV stations and publishers to screen ads.

Publicis, Omnicom Merger Gets FTC OK

U.S. antitrust authorities from the Federal Trade Commission have cleared the Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe merger. “The expiration of the HSR [Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act] review period in the U.S. and the approvals received in other jurisdictions satisfy some of the conditions necessary for the transaction to close,” Publicis Groupe saidt.

Arbitron Price Tag To Get Nielsen Buy OK’d

It’s not cheap working to get the government to clear a high-profile transaction. Year-to-date, Arbitron has spent $9.4 million in hiring consultants, lawyers and other expenses looking to persuade the Federal Trade Commission to allow Nielsen to buy it for $1.26 billion.

FTC To Search Engines: Label Ads As Such

The Federal Trade Commission tells Google, Bing and Yahoo among others to clarify what sort of material is coming up in search results.

Obama Nominates Fifth FTC Commissioner

President Obama turned to Biden aide Terrell McSweeney to fill the fifth open seat on the Federal Trade Commission. McSweeney’s ties with Vice President Joe Biden began in 2005 when she served as his deputy chief of staff and as counsel on the Senate Judiciary committee, ending in 2008 when she became Biden’s issues director for the Obama campaign in 2008. Most recently, McSweeney has served as senior counsel of competition policy in the antitrust division at the Department of Justice.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Resigns

Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, said on Thursday that he would resign effective mid-February. His departure will end a four-year tenure in which he pushed for online privacy protections and sought to restrain unfair competition, but stumbled in an attempt to rein in the Internet search practices of Google.

FTC Issues ‘Eco-Friendly’ Label Guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission wants marketers to be clear and accurate about environmental claims they make for their products.

Exiting FTC Chief May Take On Google

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz is planning to step down as one of the country’s top monopoly-busters by the end of the year. But before the 54-year-old lawyer, a longtime consumer watchdog, returns to private life he may want to push an antitrust case against Google, sources familiar with the case says.

Obama Set To Nominate FTC Commissioner

President Obama intends to nominate Joshua Wright to serve as a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission. Wright is currently a professor of law at George Mason University School of Law, as well as the research director and a member of the board of directors of the International Center for Law and Economics. He’ll replace Thomas Rosch, whose seven-year term expires this month.

Reebok Agrees to $25M Ad Claims Settlement

Reebok has agreed to a $25 million settlement over advertising claims that its EasyTone and RunTone shoes could give users “better legs and a better butt with every step,” and has agreed to stop making the claims, the Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday.

FTC Is Asking Questions About Twitter

The Federal Trade Commission is taking a closer look at Twitter, sending a query about possible antitrust behavior to another tech firm that has sparred with the social-networking site. UberMedia, which makes products allowing users to access Twitter from mobile phones, confirmed Thursday that it was contacted by the FTC about Twitter. The company declined to give specifics about the inquiry, but UberMedia has fought with Twitter in recent months about whether it can continue offering Twitter-related apps.

FTC, Colo. Sue Over Promissory Notes Infomercials

DENVER (AP) — Colorado and federal officials are suing a company that runs infomercials offering to teach people how make money in the promissory notes business. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on Tuesday announced the lawsuit against Westminster-based Dalbey Education Institute, formerly known as America’s Note Network. The company markets its products in infomercials that […]

FTC Seeks New Limits On Food Ads For Kids

The Federal Trade Commission proposed sweeping new guidelines on Thursday that could push the food industry to overhaul how it advertises cereal, soda pop, snacks, restaurant meals and other foods to children in an effort to help stem childhood obesity.

CBS’s EcoAd Accused Of ‘Greenwashing’

Four environmental organizations have complained to the Federal Trade Commission about EcoAd, a new marketing program from the CBS Corporation, because, they charged, it will mislead and confuse consumers. CBS, in a lengthy statement, denied the complaints.

FTC To Take Another Look At Alcohol Ads

For the fourth time in 12 years, the Federal Trade Commission plans to study the effectiveness of the voluntary guidelines followed by most marketers of alcoholic beverages. The guidelines are intended primarily to reduce the exposure of advertising to those under the legal drinking age.

FTC Backs Do-Not-Track System For Web

An FTC report calls for development of a system that would enable people to avoid having their actions monitored online, a move Internet-ad firms oppose.