The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
DOJ Looks Into How AT&T, Verizon Handle Defecting Customers. The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into whether AT&T, Verizon and a standards-setting group worked together to stop consumers from easily switching wireless carriers. The companies confirmed the inquiry in separate statements late Friday in response to a report in The New York Times. The U.S. government is looking into whether AT&T, Verizon and telecommunications standards organization GSMA worked together to suppress a technology that lets people remotely switch wireless companies without having to insert a new SIM card into their phones.
EU antitrust chief says investigation of Google’s Android, AdSense is advancing. Investigations into how Google may be using its Android smartphone operating system and its AdSense advertising service to thwart rivals are advancing, Europe’s antitrust chief said on Wednesday, amid concern about the lengthy proceedings. The European Commission opened its investigation into Android in 2015, following a complaint two years earlier from the lobbying group FairSearch. A 2016 document seen by Reuters said the EU competition enforcer planned to levy a large fine against the company and would order it to stop giving revenue-sharing payments to smartphone makers to pre-install only Google Search.
Time Warner C.E.O. Testifies That AT&T Merger Is Needed to Battle Silicon Valley. Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeffrey Bewkes, vigorously defended his company’s $85.4 billion merger with AT&T on Wednesday, saying the deal was necessary to confront “tectonic changes” in entertainment caused by internet competitors like Netflix and Amazon. Mr. Bewkes was the first top executive from Time Warner and AT&T to take the stand in federal court to argue against the Justice Department’s lawsuit to block the merger. The Justice Department had sued to stop the blockbuster deal in November, arguing that a union of the two companies would harm consumers and weaken competition.
Fox chose Disney over Comcast on regulatory, stock fears: filing. Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, which agreed in December to sell most of its assets to Walt Disney Co for $52.4 billion, had previously rejected a bid from Comcast Corp over concerns about the regulatory risks and its stock value, a regulatory filing on Wednesday showed. The joint filing by Disney and Fox, which outlines the timeline of their negotiations, offers the most detailed insight yet into Fox’s thinking, as it goes head-to-head against Comcast, a U.S. cable operator, in its bid to acquire European pay-TV company Sky Plc, in which Fox holds a 39 percent stake. Comcast announced in February it was working on a $31 billion bid that would top Fox’s deal for Sky. It has not made a new attempt to bid for the Fox assets after the Disney deal, so investors are keen for information on the hurdles that prevented an agreement between Fox and Comcast.