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Posted at 10:09 AM ET, 09/19/2011

The Circuit: Netflix to split; Sprint files to join DOJ suit; AT&T said to be trying to sell spectrum, assets

LEADING THE DAY: Netflix is set to split into two businesses, one for DVDs and one for streaming video, chief executive Reed Hastings announced in a blog post late Sunday. The change will take place in a few weeks, Hastings wrote. The DVD business will be renamed Qwikster, and will also include an optional upgrade to include video game rentals. Customers using Netflix’s DVD site will be able to retain their accounts and queues, but will access the service through The streaming business will remain the same, Hastings wrote, adding that the company is expecting to add “substantial” streaming content to the service in the coming months — welcome news to those worried about the end of the company’s deal with the Starz media group.

Hastings also apologized to all Netflix subscribers for not being clearer about the company’s plans, particularly in regards to pricing. Netflix has faced a wave of customer backlash over changes it made to its pricing structure, losing the company around 1 million of its subscribers.

“I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation,” Hastings wrote.

Sprint files to join DOJ suit: Sprint filed paperwork late Friday to formally join the Justice Department’s suit objecting to AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. Several states, including California and New York, also filed Friday to join the DOJ suit opposing the merger.

Sprint spokesman John Taylor said that combining the cases will help the court deal with the issues in the case more efficiently.

AT&T turns to rivals to help deal: AT&T has reportedly been approaching smaller companies such as MetroPCS and Leap to sell off spectrum and subscribers, Bloomberg reported Monday. Citing unnamed people “with direct knowledge of the situation,” the country’s second-largest wireless carrier is said to have also reached out to Sprint, Century Link and Dish Network to see if the companies would be interested in buying assets.

Google antitrust hearing this week: Google chairman Eric Schmidt will testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Wednesday, appearing on his own panel. The chairman is expected to face questions on whether Google favors its own properties in search results and puts competitors at a disadvantage. Lawmakers will also probe Google’s ability to display content from other Web sites such as Yelp in response to a user’s query, said MF Global analyst Paul Gallant in a research note.

Google Wallet: Google released a teaser video for its Google Wallet service last week featuring Seinfeld character George Costanza and his famously overstuffed wallet. The video, first reported by TechCrunch, is being seen as a possible sign that the company will fully launch the service Monday. The site also reported that documentation is being sent to Google Wallet partners indicating the launch will happen Sept. 19.

A launch today would coincide with the NFC World Congress, the industry gathering for those who make near-field communications technology, the backbone of the pay-by-phone service.

By  |  10:09 AM ET, 09/19/2011

Tags:  Google, Mobile, AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Leap, Sprint, DOJ, Netflix

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