Business Brief

Stephen King testifies and Google could get sued in biggest antitrust news

By , ,

The country’s most powerful companies will make many efforts to dominate their industries, but for the sake of competition, some tactics are off limits. When major firms push too hard, they often end up in court. We have some of the biggest stories in antitrust in this week’s Five For Friday.

#5: Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House

What type of antitrust case would trot out the mind behind “The Shining,” “It,” “Carrie” and “The Shawshank Redemption”? Stephen King took the stand on Tuesday to testify against his own publisher Simon & Schuster, which is attempting a $2.2 billion merger with Penguin Random House. As an expert witness on behalf of the government, the author said consolidation of two of the big five publishers would hurt up-and-coming writers. King added that he has already seen a change in the industry where some publishers will just step aside in bidding wars over the rights for books, keeping prices low throughout the industry. He equated the situation to “a husband and wife bidding against each other for a house. It’s a little bit ridiculous.”

#4: Just Google

As one of the biggest global names in tech, Google has faced a number of antitrust woes. In the last few years, Google has faced lawsuits from nearly every state over its dominance in online advertising and how it prioritizes search results. The issues don’t stop there. The alleged monopolization of its app store is also being challenged by Fortnite maker Epic Games and dating app Match. With the Department of Justice breathing down its back in recent months, Google reportedly offered to split off some of its ad business to avoid more legal trouble. Unfortunately for Google, the DOJ reportedly isn’t buying it and is still planning to file suit in the near future.

#3: Antitrust bill miss

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have a bill ready to move forward in Congress’ upper chamber that would take on exactly what Google is being accused of with ad sales. Amazon and Apple would also be targets of the legislation due to preferential treatment. But alas, Klobuchar said this week her bill wouldn’t get a vote ahead of the August recess. Lawmakers have a massive budget to pass and with midterms coming up, chances are slim that the bill sees the light of day in this Congress.

#2: UnitedHealth & Change Healthcare

Tech companies seem to be the number one target in antitrust these days, but healthcare isn’t far behind. The DOJ filed a suit to stop the $13 billion merger of UnitedHealth and Change Healthcare. The government claims the deal gives UnitedHealth, which owns the nation’s largest insurer, access to most data from its rivals. In opening arguments earlier this week, UnitedHealth downplayed those concerns, saying it already receives that data through its Optum services unit and it handles the information with care.

#1: Meta & Within

The antitrust landscape is changing with the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against Facebook parent company Meta to stop its acquisition of virtual reality fitness startup Within. Meta has been taking strides to bolster its VR market share after buying headset maker Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. The deal for Within is reportedly worth upwards of $400 million, which may not seem like much in this realm. But FTC chair Lina Khan has made it her goal to make sure antitrust isn’t only about megamergers. In fact, she reportedly overruled her staff who didn’t want to move forward with this suit.

SIMONE DEL ROSARIO:

POWERFUL COMPANIES TEND TO WANT TO DOMINATE THEIR INDUSTRIES. BUT FOR THE SAKE OF COMPETITION, SOME TACTICS ARE OFF LIMITS. WHEN COMPANIES PUSH IT TO THE EDGE, OR OVER, THEY WIND UP IN COURT. WE’VE GOT THE BIGGEST STORIES HAPPENING IN ANTITRUST IN THIS WEEK’S FIVE FOR FRIDAY.

AT NUMBER FIVE, HORROR AUTHOR STEPHEN KING – THE MIND BEHIND THE SHINING, IT, CARRIE, PET SEMATARY, AND THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION – HE TESTIFIED TUESDAY IN A CASE AGAINST HIS OWN PUBLISHER’S $2.2 BILLION MERGER WITH PENGUIN RANDOMHOUSE. THE AUTHOR SAYS THE CONSOLIDATION WOULD HURT UP AND COMING WRITERS AND WITH SO FEW MAJOR PLAYERS IN PUBLISHING, NEGOTIATIONS WOULD BE LIKE QUOTE: “A HUSBAND AND WIFE BIDDING AGAINST EACH OTHER FOR A HOUSE. IT’S A LITTLE BIT RIDICULOUS.”

LET’S PUT GOOGLE’S ANTITRUST WOES AT NUMBER 4. JUST GOOGLE’S FACING LAWSUITS FROM NEARLY EVERY STATE… OVER ITS DOMINANCE IN ONLINE ADS, AND THE WAY IT HANDLES ITS SEARCH ENGINE…TO MONOPOLIZATION IN ITS APP STORE, (EPIC GAMES AND MATCH LOGO OVER BLURRED GAMEPLAY VIDEO) FEATURING CHALLENGES FROM FORTNITE MAKER EPIC GAMES AND DATING APP “MATCH.” BASICALLY, THEY’RE GETTING IT FROM ALL DIRECTIONS, AND WHILE GOOGLE REPORTEDLY OFFERED TO SPLIT OFF SOME OF THAT AD BUSINESS TO THWART OFF LEGAL ACTION, THE DOJ TURNED THEM DOWN.

NUMBER THREE IS CONGRESS’ FAILED ATTEMPT TO TAKE ON BIG TECH. THERE’S A BILL READY TO MOVE FORWARD IN THE SENATE THAT WOULD TAKE AIM AT EXACTLY WHAT GOOGLE IS BEING ACCUSED OF WITH AD SALES. AS AMAZON AND APPLE ARE ALSO TARGETS. BUT, ALAS, SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR THIS WEEK SAID HER BILL WOULDN’T GET A VOTE BEFORE THE AUGUST RECESS, TAKING A BACKSEAT TO THE BUDGET. AND WITH MIDTERMS COMING UP, CHANCES IT SEES THE LIGHT OF DAY IN THIS CONGRESS ARE SLIM.

OK. TECH IS THE CURRENT HOT TARGET IN ANTITRUST, BUT HEALTHCARE IS A REPEAT OFFENDER. THAT’S WHY THE DOJ’S LAWSUIT TO STOP THE $13 BILLION MERGER BETWEEN UNITEDHEALTH AND CHANGE HEALTHCARE IS OUR NUMBER 2. THE DOJ CLAIMS THE DEAL GIVES UNITED, WHICH OWNS THE NATION’S LARGEST INSURER, ACCESS TO MOST OF ITS RIVAL’S DATA. IN OPENING ARGUMENTS THIS WEEK, UNITED DOWNPLAYED THE CONCERNS, SAYING ACTUALLY, THEY ALREADY HAVE THE DATA.

OUR NUMBER ONE SPEAKS TO THE CHANGING TIDES OF ANTITRUST. THE FTC IS SUING FACEBOOK PARENT COMPANY META TO STOP ITS ACQUISITION OF VIRTUAL REALITY FITNESS STARTUP WITHIN. THIS IS ROUGHLY A $400 MILLION DEAL. KINDA SMALL POTATOES. BUT FTC CHAIR LINA KHAN HAS MADE IT HER GOAL TO MAKE SURE ANTITRUST ISN’T ONLY ABOUT HUGE MERGERS. IN FACT, SHE REPORTEDLY OVERRULED HER STAFF WHO DID NOT WANT TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE SUIT. SHE’S THE BOSS.

AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T TRY TO STOP THE MERGER OF PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE. THAT’S A REESE’S REFERENCE TWO WEEKS IN A ROW. SEE IF I CAN MAKE IT THREE NEXT WEEK! THAT’S YOUR FIVE FOR FRIDAY. I’M SIMONE DEL ROSARIO AND IT’S JUST BUSINESS.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Get ready to rate in…

lock

Watch the report to unlock rating

Your Rating

Rating closes in 4 days

Total User Rating

eye icon

Rate to reveal

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

comment bubbles

The country’s most powerful companies will make many efforts to dominate their industries, but for the sake of competition, some tactics are off limits. When major firms push too hard, they often end up in court. We have some of the biggest stories in antitrust in this week’s Five For Friday.

#5: Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House

What type of antitrust case would trot out the mind behind “The Shining,” “It,” “Carrie” and “The Shawshank Redemption”? Stephen King took the stand on Tuesday to testify against his own publisher Simon & Schuster, which is attempting a $2.2 billion merger with Penguin Random House. As an expert witness on behalf of the government, the author said consolidation of two of the big five publishers would hurt up-and-coming writers. King added that he has already seen a change in the industry where some publishers will just step aside in bidding wars over the rights for books, keeping prices low throughout the industry. He equated the situation to “a husband and wife bidding against each other for a house. It’s a little bit ridiculous.”

#4: Just Google

As one of the biggest global names in tech, Google has faced a number of antitrust woes. In the last few years, Google has faced lawsuits from nearly every state over its dominance in online advertising and how it prioritizes search results. The issues don’t stop there. The alleged monopolization of its app store is also being challenged by Fortnite maker Epic Games and dating app Match. With the Department of Justice breathing down its back in recent months, Google reportedly offered to split off some of its ad business to avoid more legal trouble. Unfortunately for Google, the DOJ reportedly isn’t buying it and is still planning to file suit in the near future.

#3: Antitrust bill miss

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have a bill ready to move forward in Congress’ upper chamber that would take on exactly what Google is being accused of with ad sales. Amazon and Apple would also be targets of the legislation due to preferential treatment. But alas, Klobuchar said this week her bill wouldn’t get a vote ahead of the August recess. Lawmakers have a massive budget to pass and with midterms coming up, chances are slim that the bill sees the light of day in this Congress.

#2: UnitedHealth & Change Healthcare

Tech companies seem to be the number one target in antitrust these days, but healthcare isn’t far behind. The DOJ filed a suit to stop the $13 billion merger of UnitedHealth and Change Healthcare. The government claims the deal gives UnitedHealth, which owns the nation’s largest insurer, access to most data from its rivals. In opening arguments earlier this week, UnitedHealth downplayed those concerns, saying it already receives that data through its Optum services unit and it handles the information with care.

#1: Meta & Within

The antitrust landscape is changing with the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against Facebook parent company Meta to stop its acquisition of virtual reality fitness startup Within. Meta has been taking strides to bolster its VR market share after buying headset maker Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. The deal for Within is reportedly worth upwards of $400 million, which may not seem like much in this realm. But FTC chair Lina Khan has made it her goal to make sure antitrust isn’t only about megamergers. In fact, she reportedly overruled her staff who didn’t want to move forward with this suit.

Get ready to rate in…

Community Rating

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

lock

Watch the report to unlock rating

Rate the bias

Keep us honest! Let us know if you thought this video was neutral or biased.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.