Tech Giants Could Face Antitrust Probes In “A Dozen” States, DOJ Official Says

Already under investigation and review by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet could soon face similar probes in more than a dozen states.
As Sullivan noted, the "N" in FAANG — Netflix — has largely stayed out of the regulatory spotlight. In Delrahim's view, the increasingly competitive marketplace in streaming has minimized the risk of the company wielding monopoly power.
these are offerings that could have been offered by any programming provider, but they weren't," Delrahim said. "Netflix and to some extent Amazon Prime did disrupt that system and now you're seeing more and more movement into [streaming], which is generally, I think, a benefit for consumers."” /> "The usability of it, portability of it …
As the DOJ was preparing to sue AT&T in an effort to block its acquisition of Time Warner (an effort eventually rejected by a federal judge and again on appeal), one state (which Delrahim did not identify) made a request. State and federal regulators are not always aligned in their interests, however, Delrahim cautioned during the 45-minute discussion with CNBC anchor Brian Sullivan.
We've had great efficiencies that have been brought to consumers through some of the innovations," Delrahim said. "But it's also undeniable that people are asking questions about the market power of a certain number of companies in particular marketplaces. I don't think it's useful or productive to lump all technology companies together. That's part of what an investigation may reveal, what marketplace they're in." You know, does Google compete with Facebook? … "We're living in a time of incredible innovation and prosperity.
In the event of a settlement and divestiture of AT&T assets, he said, the state demanded, "Rupert Murdoch cannot purchase it. Now, if anybody cares about the First Amendment, that should shake you to the core." Delrahim said he invoked those freedom of speech concerns in rejecting the state's request, and the state did not join the suit. While he didn't specify the asset, CNN has often been cited as the irritant in the merger, given Trump's long history of battling with the network.
"A couple of dozen state attorneys general have expressed an interest in the subject matter.” Appearing Tuesday at the the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum (see full video above), DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim confirmed recent discussions between federal regulators and state attorneys general. While he didn't name any states or reveal details, Delrahim said, “I think it’s probably safe to say more than a dozen" are looking at opening investigations.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported the interest at the state level. On the left, presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have made breaking up Big Tech a key plank in their platforms. President Donald Trump has also amplified charges of bias against right-wing information disseminated by major tech platforms. Tech companies have found themselves under the microscope for, among other things, their use of data and their dominance of digital advertising.
Their influence has grown to the point that even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook, among other tech titans, have publicly conceded that regulatory sanctions would be appropriate. Addressing the tech landscape more broadly, Delrahim said regulatory examination is a natural development.

Landmark Deal Ends EU’s Sky Antitrust Case Against Hollywood Studios, Opening Up European Pay-TV Marketplace

The European Union has accepted promises from Sky and Hollywood major studios not to engage in "geoblocking" of their content, ending a years-long antitrust case without fines or punitive action.
As digital services become more popular and sophisticated, regulators are increasingly interested in creating a single market rather than a collection of more than two dozen.” /> The EU originally initiated the antitrust case in 2014, bringing formal action the following year and arguing that customers across Europe should have access to Sky’s services in the UK and Ireland.
Under the agreement, the studios will now allow EU customers outside Britain and Ireland to subscribe to Sky UK's pay-TV services. The EEA consists of the 28 EU nations plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. In future license deals with companies in the European Economic Area, they agreed not to carve out countries or regions, which would violate competition rules.
The landmark outcome will open national pay-TV markets that had long existed in their own silos, allowing consumers across the EU access to a wider range of content regardless of their location. Sky, long a marquee investment for Fox architect Rupert Murdoch, changed hands to Comcast last year in a $40 billion deal.
and Sony, four of the remaining targets of the EU action (with the initially named Paramount and Fox agreeing to earlier provisions), would all face fines in the future if they go back on their pledges, the EU said. For now, the governmental body affirmed in a statement, “These commitments address the Commission’s concerns." Disney, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros.

21st Century Fox & Comcast’s Battle For Sky Set To Hit Brexit Bump After Culture Secretary Gets New Role

He replaces Jeremy Hunt, who was named Foreign Secretary after Johnson resigned over the PM’s Brexit strategy. Hancock was thought to be on the brink of finally giving Rupert Murdoch’s Hollywood the final greenlight to buy the 61% of the European pay-TV firm that it currently does not own. Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, who has overseen the takeover from a political level, has been named Health Secretary in Theresa May’s government.
However, the Brexit turmoil is unlikely to stop Comcast lodging a formal $31B bid for Sky this week, which itself could lead to a major bidding war for the Bulletproof broadcaster between the Brian Roberts-run firm and Rupert Murdoch’s studio
This week just got a little bit longer for all parties.” />
He has been replaced as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport by attorney general Jeremy Wright QC MP, a man with little to no experience in the media sector.
We possibly spoke too soon: The battle between 21st Century Fox and Comcast for ownership of Sky could have hit a bump in the road as a result of Boris Johnston’s resignation as Foreign Secretary.
The consultation process for these undertakings closed last week and as expected to be made public in the next few days, before Johnson’s departure lead to the government shakeup. This means a decision could well be delayed in light of the turmoil within the Conservative government.