DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim has named section chief Kathy O’Neill to a new post as senior director of investigations and litigation. As such she will be the most senior civil antitrust attorney. Most recently, she had been chief of the Antitrust Division’s transportation, energy and agriculture section.
A federal grand jury has indicted eight people on charges of conspiring to violate copyright law by running a couple of the largest unauthorized TV show and movie streaming sites, according to the Department of Justice.
Heading towards a $20 billion showdown with Comcast at the U.S. Supreme Court this fall in his long running racial discrimination lawsuit against the media giant, Byron Allen today tore into the Brian Roberts-run company and an 11th hour intervention by the Department of Justice. “This is historic,” the Entertainment Studios boss said of an Aug. 15 brief filed by the feds seeking to tighten the definitions of a Reconstruction Era statute in Comcast’s favor. “Donald Trump’s DOJ and Comcast are working together to destroy a civil rights statute in the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“Without the required divestitures, Nexstar’s merger with Tribune threatens significant competitive harm to cable and satellite TV subscribers and small businesses,” said antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. “I am pleased, however, that we have been able to reach a resolution of the division’s concerns, thanks in part to the parties’ commitment to engage in good faith settlement talks from the outset of our investigation.”
Dish says it will combine $5 billion in assets being spun off from the Sprint-T-Mobile merger with its own vast reserves of wireless spectrum to compete head-on with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint-T-Mobile. “We’ve been here before,” said Dish CEO Charlie Ergen. “When we entered pay-TV with the launch of our first satellite in 1995, we faced entrenched cable monopolies, and our direct competitor was owned by one of the largest industrial corporations in the world.”
The cable operator submitted a proposal to the Justice Department to buy certain assets being spun off by the merger of the two wireless companies, but never heard back from the agency, three sources familiar with the matter said. Instead, Justice opted for a plan to sell the assets to Dish. Justice is expected to greenlight the merger.
As part of the agreement settling DOJ’s antitrust concerns, the merging companies would spin off assets to Dish that would facilitate its entry into the wireless market as a new No. 4. The arrangement provides for Dish to acquire prepaid subscribers and wireless licenses from the merger partners, the Wall Street Journal says citing unnamed sources. Dish would also get a multiyear agreement to use the wireless companies’ network while it builds its own infrastructure.
The Justice Department said it will investigate how internet giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google have accumulated market power and whether they have acted to reduce competition. Similar inquiries are underway in Congress and at the Federal Trade Commission, which shares antitrust oversight responsibilities with the DOJ.
An internal email from the GM of Red River Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D., says the Justice Department has signed off on the $32 million sale to Gray Television first proposed in 2018.
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is reviewing the antitrust consent decrees that govern ASCAP and BMI — the decrees that require that these performing rights organizations treat similarly situated licensees (and artists) in the same way and that allow a court to review the reasonableness of the rates that ASCAP and BMI propose. Those comments were initially due tomorrow, July 10, but the DOJ announced on its website that the comment deadline has been extended until Aug. 9.