Feeds

Europe to say no to AOL, Time-Warner, EMI merger

The deal will hurt competition, European Commission reckons

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The European Union looks set to block AOL's $132 billion acquisition of Time-Warner, and the latter's' music label merger with EMI, on the grounds that the deals, if allowed to go ahead, would be anti-competitive.

According to a leaked preliminary ruling from the European Commission, the merger "would create a dominant position in the markets for online music delivery, music software, Internet dial-up access, broadband Internet access and integrated broadband content as a result of which effective competition would be significantly impeded...

"The more content AOL acquires and the bigger its community of users, the less reasons for a subscriber to abandon AOL's walled garden and the more reasons for potential Internet users to join AOL," claims the Commission.

Which is, of course, largely why AOL wants to buy Time-Warner. That and the fact that it can buy Time-Warner - there's a degree of 'new economy beats old economy' pissing competition about this. There's also the fact that, sooner or later, Net connectivity will become so ubiquitous that AOL will have to remodel itself purely as a content company, and the best way of doing that is to become a media company. That process will be helped along by buying a media operation in the meantime.

The issue, then, is what AOL does with all that content. The EU - and, indeed, a number of both companies' major rivals - reckon that AOL could limit the accessibility of its content to those willing to pay for its connectivity offerings.

Says the Commission report: "AOL could refuse to distribute third-parties' film content or threaten to refuse to distribute in order to negotiate the most advantageous commercial terms."

AOL and Time-Warner representatives have promised to keep these sides of the business separate, ensuring fair access to competitors, but as the Microsoft antitrust case showed, keeping two separate but closely connected operations - in MS' case, operating systems and applications - sufficiently far apart isn't easy.

The leaked report is only a preliminary document, and the Commission will meet representatives from AOL, Time-Warner and EMI before it has to make an official pronouncement on the mergers. The verdict on the EMI/Warner merger will take place before 18 October, and on the AOL/Time-Warner by 24 October. Commission insiders, however, reckon the organisation's decisions will be revealed by 4 October, according to Reuters. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA
Yes, the National Association of Theater Owners is quite upset
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.