The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Judge Lets Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Suit Move Ahead. A court is allowing antitrust litigation against health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield to proceed. U.S. District Judge David Proctor of Birmingham, Alabama, in a ruling late Thursday refused to accept the insurer’s claim that it’s a single entity operating across the nation. Instead, Proctor agreed to let plaintiff lawyers move ahead with allegations that some actions by 36 state insurance operations could amount to an automatic violation of antitrust laws. The suit claims the insurer’s actions mean higher premiums for customers and lower reimbursement rates for medical providers.
Time Warner pressure on cable carriers cited as U.S. fights AT&T deal. The Justice Department, seeking to stop AT&T Inc.’s deal to purchase Time Warner Inc., sought to show how often Time Warner subsidiary Turner would threaten to cut off cable companies to win concessions during contract negotiations. The Justice Department has asked Judge Richard Leon, who is hearing the testimony, to order the companies to abandon the deal on the grounds that it is illegal under antitrust law. Coleman Breland, who negotiated distribution contracts for Turner for more than two decades, testified about a series of instances in which the movie and TV show maker threatened to “go dark,” essentially cutting off access to content for various cable providers.
Italy Antitrust opens probe into Facebook’s collection, use of data. Italy’s Antitrust Authority has opened a probe into possible incorrect commercial practices by Facebook in its treatment of user data, the agency said in a statement on Friday. “When an account is activated, Facebook may not adequately and immediately inform the user about the collection and use, for commercial reasons, of the data that they release,” the statement said. The agency also said users may “automatically and without their knowledge” be agreeing to the harvesting and use of their data by third-party applications that connect to the Facebook platform.
Live Nation Rules Music Ticketing, Some Say With Threats. In 2010, when the Justice Department allowed the two most dominant companies in the live music business — Live Nation and Ticketmaster — to merge, many greeted the news with dread. Live Nation was already the world’s biggest concert promoter. Ticketmaster had for years been the leading ticket provider. Critics warned that the merger would create an industry monolith, one capable of crippling competitors in the ticketing business.