The Washington Post

Universal, EMI merger cleared at FTC, E.U. #thecircuit

FTC, E.U., approve Universal, EMI merger: The European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission both announced Friday that they will not block a merger between music companies Universal and EMI.

In its statement on the decision, the FTC said that it did not find sufficient evidence that the acquisition would greatly decrease competition in the music space.

Opponents of the deal said that the merger would enable the companies to hurt the streaming music industry. But the statement said that they did not find evidence that Universal and EMI offer “products that could be viewed by streaming services as direct substitutes.”

The European Commission approved the merger as well, but said it was subject to conditions. Universal will have to divest or sell some EMI assets, including EMI Recording Limited.

The situation in Europe, the FTC said, is different than in the U.S. because of market concentration and other factors. The E.U.’s decision, however, will decrease market concentration in the U.S. as well, the commission said.

In a statement, Universal Music said it was pleased with the FTC’s decision.

“Our investment in EMI will create more opportunities for new and established artists, expand music output and consumer choice, and support new digital services,” the statement said. It added that the Universal feels it is “well positioned to grow the company and offer music fans around the world more music and more choice than ever before.”

BlackBerry outage: Research in Motion customers across the Europe and Africa were hit with a service outage for a few hours Friday morning. According to a statement from RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins, no customer data or messages have been lost, though they were delayed for up to three hours.

The timing of the outage was particularly bad from the struggling smartphone maker — not only because the outage recalled a similar problem last October, but also because it coincided with the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Apple’s iPhone 5 launches: Apple has released its latest version of the iPhone to its usual crowds of excited fans Friday morning. The device, which sold over 2 million in pre-orders, launched with the addition of a larger screen and the capability to run on LTE networks.

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon reported they were seeing no activation issues from the influx of iPhone users Friday morning.

Apple’s phone has been getting rave reviews, but the company’s new mapping application has not. Apple wrote its own mapping application for its devices, which replaces a previous app from rival Google.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told The Post that Apple is working to improve the application and that it appreciates customer feedback.

LightSquared hearing: The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations revisited the issue of LightSquared and its broadband network Friday.

In submitted testimony, Julius Knapp, the head of the Federal Communications Commission office of engineering technology, said that the FCC did not know that LightSquarerd’s proposed project had the potential to interfere with global-positioning system networks when it gave its approval.

In fact, the FCC said the GPS industry did not raise concerns about possible interference until “very late in the proceeding.” The GPS industry disagrees.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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