Herb Kohl vows Google probe

by
March 11, 2011

By MIKE ZAPLER, Politico

Media consolidation, net neutrality and Google’s dominance in Internet search are among the issues the Senate’s leading legislator on antitrust issues plans to scrutinize in the months ahead.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who heads the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, listed those issues as priorities in an announcement Thursday outlining his top concerns for the 112th Congress.

Kohl specifically called out Google as a potential cause for concern. The senator in December urged the Justice Department to conduct a “careful review” of the search giant’s attempted acquisition of travel search software firm ITA.

“In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world’s largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses,” Kohl said in a news release.

“In this regard, we will closely examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking, and in their ability to purchase search advertising,” Kohl continued. “We also will continue to closely examine the impact of further acquisitions in this sector.”

The emergence of online video — and barriers providers face reaching consumers over broadband Internet lines — will also be a focus of the subcommittee. He said the panel will also track Comcast’s integration with NBC Universal and whether conditions on the deal attached by regulators are being met.

“Internet video holds the promise of providing consumers, for the first time, an alternative to expensive pay TV subscriptions and the ability to purchase only the programming they want,” Kohl said.

The panel will look at “challenges that video programmers face in distributing their programming over the Internet, challenges that online video distributors face in obtaining programming, and whether Internet service providers are placing undue barriers to the video delivered over the Internet,” Kohl said in the release.

In addition, he said, the panel is going to explore adherence to “the merger conditions imposed on the Comcast/NBC Universal merger to ensure that these conditions are being properly applied to foster competition, including competition from new forms of Internet delivery of video content.”
To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51079.html#ixzz1GIOKfeup

 

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