O’Rielly Has Issues With DOJ’s Media View

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday that there continues to be a disconnect between the Department of Justice’s approach to antitrust and the realities of the competitive video marketplace.

DOJ Seeks Appeal In 1st Amend. Case

President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice lawyers are asking a New York federal judge to allow an immediate appeal of her decision that a suit accusing him of repeatedly violating the First Amendment can move forward — and they want to pause the proceedings in her courtroom while that appeal plays out.

Trump’s Enforcer: Meet Makan Delrahim

As showbiz scales up to battle Big Tech, Makan Delrahim, the nation’s top antitrust regulator (and a former movie producer), is becoming as influential as any mogul over Netflix, megamergers, the Writers Guild and maybe the entire future of the entertainment business.

DOJ Won’t Tackle Politically Biased Media

Despite complaints from conservatives who say left-leaning tech companies are shadow-banning on social media, DOJ Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim says he won’t get involved.

Senator Wants DOJ To Absorb FTC

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri released a proposal this morning to absorb the Federal Trade Commission into the U.S. Justice Department as a way to push back on Big Tech companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc.

Antitrust Chief Recuses From Google Inquiry

Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s head of antitrust, removed himself from examining the search giant over a conflict of interest, people with knowledge of the situation say.

DOJ, FTC Schedule Vertical Merger Workshops

The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are teaming up for two public workshops on drafts of new vertical merger guidelines. Vertical mergers are ones that combine different parts of the same supply chain, an AT&T with its video services and Time Warner with its content production, for example. DOJ and the FTC divvy up reviews of mergers for potential anticompetitive effects.

DOJ To Hold Meetings On Big Tech’s Liability

The Justice Department is planning to hold a conference to discuss the future of a current federal law which largely exempts online platforms from legal liability for the material their users post, sources familiar with the plans said on Friday.

Feds Mull Blocking John Malone’s Sirius-iHeartRadio Merger

DOJ Rethinking Big Tech Liability Protection

Attorney General William Barr signaled that the Justice Department plans to step up its scrutiny of Silicon Valley, exploring new legal tools to probe companies for their privacy abuses and the way they police content online.

Judge: DOJ Not Welcome At WGA Hearing

A federal judge has denied the Justice Department’s request to participate in Friday’s hearing on the WGA’s motion to dismiss the Big Three talent agencies’ antitrust lawsuits against the guild. It’s a major procedural victory for the guild, which said last week that it saw no reason for the DOJ to take part in the hearing.

DOJ To ‘Terminate’ Paramount Consent Decrees

DOJ Tech Scrutiny Could Stretch Beyond Antitrust

High-ranking antitrust enforcers, speaking at an influential D.C. legal forum, zeroed in on big tech companies’ potential for anticompetitive behavior but also signaled they may take a broader approach to policing the industry.

Justice Dept. To Abolish Movie Distribution Rules Dating To 1949

DOJ: Current Laws Can Handle Tech Monopolies

U.S. Justice Department antitrust chief Makan Delrahim says that existent U.S. antitrust laws are “flexible enough” to address harm caused by technology companies, in the face of growing criticism that such laws cannot tackle tech monopolies.

DOJ Eyeing Comcast’s Starz Pricing Plan

Officials within the DOJ’s antitrust division are looking into Comcast’s announcement last week that it will replace 17 Starz channels in its Xfinity TV package with movie channel Epix amid complaints, including by some U.S. senators, that the move is anticompetitive, sources say.

Defense Official Arrested For Leaking Information

The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced the arrest of a Defense Intelligence Agency official for allegedly leaking classified information to journalists, including one with whom he was apparently in a relationship. Law enforcement officials arrested 30-year-old Henry Kyle Frese of Virginia as he arrived at work Tuesday and charged him with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

DOJ To Open Facebook Antitrust Investigation

The Justice Department will open an antitrust investigation of Facebook, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, marking the fourth recent antitrust probe of the social media company.

Delrahim: Big Tech Antitrust Probe A ‘Priority’

The Justice Department’s antitrust division chief, Makan Delrahim, said Tuesday that its probes of “market-leading online platforms” such as Alphabet’s Google were a “priority” that could result in either “law enforcement or policy options as solutions.”

Justice Names New Top Merger Litigator

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.

8 Indicted In Massive Video Streaming Case

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.

Byron Allen Rips Comcast, Justice Dept.

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.”

DOJ OKs Nexstar-Tribune Merger With Spinoffs

“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’s Set To Be Next Big Wireless Co.

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.”

Charter Hoped To Buy Sprint/T-Mobile Assets

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.

Justice Poised To Okay T-Mobile, Sprint 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.

Justice Opens Antitrust Review Of Big Tech

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.

DMA 115: SIOUX FALLS, SD

KDLT Says DOJ Has OK’d Sale To Gray

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.

STATION ADVISORY

DOJ Extends ASCAP-BMI Comments Deadline

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.

COMMENTARY

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.

DOJ Pushes T-Mobile To Give More To Dish

If the Department of Justice is going to allow T-Mobile to merge with Sprint, it’s going to need more concessions from Deutsche Telekom. The German telecommunications company that will control a combined T-Mobile/Sprint is in talks with both Dish Network and the DOJ on the parameters of a divestiture and spectrum-hosting agreement that will prop up Dish as a new U.S. wireless competitor. Deutsche Telekom, Dish and the DOJ are close to an agreement, and a deal could be finalized by next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Jessell | Defending Sinclair (Somebody’s Got To Do It)

Last week, Senators and Democratic presidential nomination rivals Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker called on the DOJ and FCC to investigate Sinclair’s purchase of 21 regional sports networks from Disney. Why single out Sinclair? Because they don’t like Sinclair’s right-wing, pro-Trump politics. And another thing, it’s hard to see how the FCC can single out Sinclair for doing something (circumventing ownership limits) that many other broadcasters have done with impunity.

Dem Hopefuls Take Aim At Sinclair RSN Deal

A trio of Democratic Senators/presidential candidates — Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders — has asked both the FCC and Justice Department to take a hard look at Sinclair’s purchase of Disney’s (formerly Fox’s) 21 regional sports networks (RSNs), saying they are worried both about Sinclaircombining the RSNs with its TV stations to raise the price of carriage for the latter, and about the “danger” of Sinclair’s “partisan political” programming getting a wider audience.

DOJ Settles With Five TV Companies

The agreement with CBS, Cox, Scripps, Fox and Tegna requires them to “terminate and refrain from sharing revenue pacing information and other competitively sensitive information.”

Justice’s Antitrust Chief Sketches How He’ll Assess Big Tech

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust chief suggested Tuesday he’ll take a broad view of how competition is harmed when assessing whether big tech firms should be broken up. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim also was clear in a speech in Israel that he is well aware that just two companies dominate digital […]

Why Is Washington Ready To Regulate Big Tech?

The precipitating event for Silicon Valley’s regulatory reckoning? A change in our political beliefs.

DOJ To Review ASCAP, BMI Consent Decrees

For more than 75 years, the decrees have governed the process by which these two organizations license rights to publicly perform musical works. Justice says the review is to determine whether the decrees should be maintained in their current form, modified or terminated.

Justice To Launch Google Antitrust Probe

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 Still Mum On Tegna-Nexstar Spinoffs

Those looking for Justice’s decision on whether it has any antitrust issues with Tegna’s purchase of Nexstar spin-off stations will have to wait a little longer. That is because for the sixth business day in a row the Federal Trade Commission has issued no early termination notices on any deal, an unusual hiatus for such announcements.

OTA, Cable, Digital: DOJ Wrong On Ad Competition

At the Justice Department last Friday, broadcasters were joined by Facebook and Comcast Cable in arguing that they all compete with each other for local advertising dollars. Winning that argument is the first step in convincing the DOJ to stop blocking duopolies of network affiliates. “There’s a really high overlap between these media types,” said Marcien Jenckes of Comcast. “Advertisers have shifted focus from this type of media or that type media. They think instead about their overall return on their media spend.”