Apple’s new subscription plan for publishers is drawing close eyeballing from both the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the Justice Department, both of which investigate ‘stifling-of-competition’ cases (why do we have this kind of overlap in our government agencies, anyway?)
Apple can spin this anyway they want…AND the FTC and Justice can rationalize this to avoid enforcing this rampant violation of our antitrust laws (as this writer sees it)…but, it won’t change the inherent fact that Apple’s conduct in their subscription requirements IS against the law and stinks of the skunk of greed!
U.S. antitrust enforcers have begun looking at the terms Apple Inc. set this week for media companies who want to sell their content on its popular iPad and other devices, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission’s interest in Apple’s new subscription service is at a preliminary stage, and might not develop into either a formal investigation or any action against the company. But it comes as Apple has attracted growing antitrust scrutiny in the U.S. and Europe.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said Thursday that the commission was aware of the new subscription service and was “carefully monitoring the situation.”
The Justice Department and the FTC are both interested in examining whether Apple is running afoul of U.S. antitrust laws by funneling media companies’ customers into the payment system for its iTunes store—and taking a 30% cut, the people familiar with the situation said. The agencies both enforce federal antitrust laws and would have to decide which one of them would take the lead in the matter.
Representatives of the Justice Department, the FTC and Apple all declined to comment.
Apple’s rules don’t stop media companies from selling digital subscriptions on their own. But the company imposed restrictions that could make that option less attractive to customers, and steer more sales through its own system.
Apple keeps a tight grip over almost every aspect of its iPad tablet, iPhone and iPod music and video player. It decides which applications can run on them, and the devices work only with content delivered through its iTunes store.
That level of control has drawn complaints from publishers unhappy with the company’s subscription-sales terms.
Under Apple’s terms for the new service, companies that sell digital subscriptions to content on Apple devices would be required to make it available for sale through apps at the company’s iTunes App Store at the best available price.
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