01 March 2010

EU - Commission approves proposed merger between UK subsidiaries of France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom

(RAPID)
The European Commission has cleared the proposed merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, respectively France Télécom's (FT) and Deutsche Telekom's (DT) UK subsidiaries. The decision is conditional upon the amendment of an existing network sharing agreement with Hutchison 3G UK (3UK), to ensure that there remain sufficient competitors in the market, and the divestiture of a quarter of the combined spectrum of the merging parties in the 1800 MHz band, which is one of three frequency bands currently used for mobile communications in the UK. In light of these commitments, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) withdrew its request to refer the case for review by the UK Competition Authorities.

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24 February 2010

EU - Google faces anti-monopoly probe by European Commission

(Guardian)
Google is facing a preliminary anti-monopoly probe by the European Commission into its dominant position in online browsing and digital advertising following allegations that it demotes competing websites to the lower echelons of customers' search results. The Silicon Valley internet company revealed that the commission has sent out formal questionnaires seeking information about complaints from three firms ? the British price comparison site Foundem, a French legal search engine called eJustice and a shopping site, Ciao, which is owned by Microsoft. The complaints centre on the way in which Google's search results are compiled and on the terms and conditions the company attaches to deals with advertisers. Although the commission's investigation is only at a tentative stage, the fact that Brussels is taking the issue seriously is likely to set off alarm bells at Google. See also Exclusive: How Google's Algorithm Rules the Web (Wired) and blog post by Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow responsible for ranking, explains the principles behind its algorithm.

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21 February 2010

EU - Microsoft offers web browser choice to IE users

(BBC)
Millions of European Internet Explorer (IE) users will have the option to choose an alternative browser from 1 March, Microsoft has announced. It follows a legal agreement between Microsoft and Europe's Competition Commission in December 2009. Microsoft committed to letting Windows PC users across Europe install the web browser of their choice, rather than having Microsoft IE as a default. See The Browser Choice Screen for Europe: What to Expect, When to Expect It by Dave Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. Antitrust: Commission welcomes Microsoft's roll-out of web browser choice (RAPID)

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19 February 2010

EU - Commission clears Microsoft's proposed acquisition of the Yahoo search business

(RAPID)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the internet search and search advertising businesses of Yahoo! Inc. by Microsoft. The Commission concluded that the concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

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UK - Newspaper group call to block BBC iPhone apps

(BBC)
The BBC Trust has been urged to block the corporation's plans to launch phone apps for its news and sport content. The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) said that the corporation would "damage the nascent market" for apps. The group said that it would also raise the issues with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and MPs on the Media Select Committee. The BBC has said it plans to launch its first news app on the iPhone in April, followed by one for its sport content.

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16 December 2009

EU - Commission accepts Microsoft commitments to give users browser choice

(RAPID)
The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding commitments offered by Microsoft to boost competition on the web browser market. The commitments address Commission concerns that Microsoft may have tied its web browser Internet Explorer to the Windows PC operating system in breach of EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position. Microsoft commits to offer European users of Windows choice among different web browsers and to allow computer manufacturers and users the possibility to turn Internet Explorer off. Microsoft is also publishing an undertaking whereby it commits to make far-reaching interoperability disclosures. See Your Internet, Your Choice: Microsoft web browsers decision (RAPID) Opening remarks by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy at press conference Brussels, 16th December 2009.

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07 December 2009

EU - Commission investigation into funding system for Spanish public broadcaster RTVE

(Euroap)
The European Commission has opened a formal investigation under the EU state aid rules into the new tax based funding system for the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. Spain is planning to modify the public broadcasting system by abolishing advertising and other commercial activities of RTVE and replacing this source of income by newly introduced taxes on TV and telecommunications operators. The Commission does not object to the modification of the funding system as such, but has doubts concerning the compatibility of the new tax with EU law. In particular, the Commission doubts whether the new taxes are in line with EU rules on electronic communications networks and services.

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03 December 2009

The War For the Web

(Tim O'Reilly)
I've outlined a few of the ways that big players like Facebook, Apple, and News Corp are potentially breaking the "small pieces loosely joined" model of the Internet. But perhaps most threatening of all are the natural monopolies created by Web 2.0 network effects. One of the points I've made repeatedly about Web 2.0 is that it is the design of systems that get better the more people use them, and that over time, such systems have a natural tendency towards monopoly. And so we've grown used to a world with one dominant search engine, one dominant online encyclopedia, one dominant online retailer, one dominant auction site, one dominant online classified site, and we've been readying ourselves for one dominant social network. But what happens when a company with one of these natural monopolies uses it to gain dominance in other, adjacent areas?

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23 October 2009

EU - Competition: Commission's Online Roundtable on Music

(RAPID)
A joint statement setting out general principles that would underpin the online distribution of music in the future and so lead to improved online music opportunities for European consumers was signed by participants at the fourth meeting of the Roundtable on the Online Distribution of Music, chaired by European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes on 19 th October 2009. The participants at the Roundtable were Amazon, BEUC, EMI, iTunes, Nokia, PRS for Music, SACEM, STIM and Universal. Following the Roundtable, a number of participants announced concrete steps and commitments that should result in improved access of European consumers to music online.

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09 October 2009

EU approves new Microsoft pledges

(BBC)
The European Union has voiced its approval for Microsoft's latest pledges to curb its anti-competitive practices. The technology giant has agreed to give customers a wider choice of web browser through its Windows operating system and to share information with rivals. The EU will now consult PC makers, software firms and consumers on Microsoft's offer.

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20 September 2009

US objects to Google book deal

(BBC)
The US Justice Department has urged a New York court to reject a deal that would allow internet company Google to publish millions of books online. The deal raised copyright and anti-trust issues, the department said, and should be rejected in its current form. See Press release. In its filing, the Department proposed that the parties consider a number of changes to the agreement that may help address the United States? concerns, including imposing limitations on the most open-ended provisions for future licensing, eliminating potential conflicts among class members, providing additional protections for unknown rights holders, addressing the concerns of foreign authors and publishers, eliminating the joint-pricing mechanisms among publishers and authors, and, whatever the settlement's ultimate scope, providing some mechanism by which Google's competitors can gain comparable access.

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18 September 2009

EU - State aid: Commission adopts Guidelines for broadband networks

(RAPID)
The European Commission has adopted Guidelines on the application of EC Treaty state aid rules to the public funding of broadband networks. The Guidelines provide a clear and predictable framework for stakeholders and will help Member States to accelerate and extend broadband deployment. The Guidelines also contain specific provisions concerning the deployment of Next Generation Access networks, allowing public support to foster investment in this strategic sector without creating undue distortions of competition. The Guidelines take account of comments received during a public consultation.

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21 July 2009

EU sets hearing over Google books deal

(Reuters)
The European Commission is to hold a hearing on September 7 for interested parties to comment on Google's deal with publishers to make millions of books available online and its impact on EU writers' rights. The European Union executive had said in May it would study Google's book deal after Germany complained the company had scanned books from U.S. libraries to create its Google Books database without prior consent of rights holders. Britain and France also backed Germany. In a deal with the Authors Guild and the Association of American publishers last October, Google agreed to pay $125 million to create a Book Rights Registry, where authors and publishers can register works and be compensated from institutional subscriptions or book sales. The U.S. Justice Department is now looking into this settlement.

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06 July 2009

EU: State aid: Commission updates rules for state funding of public broadcasters

(RAPID)
The European Commission has adopted a new Communication on state aid for the funding of public service broadcasters. The new Communication replaces the Commission?s 2001 Broadcasting Communication. The main changes include an increased focus on accountability and effective control at the national level, including a transparent evaluation of the overall impact of publicly-funded new media services. The main changes in the new Communication concern: the ex ante control of significant new services launched by public service broadcasters (balancing the market impact of such new services with their public value); clarifications concerning the inclusion of pay services in the public service remit; more effective control of overcompensation and supervision of the public service mission on the national level. See Communication from the Commission on the application of state aid rules to public service broadcasting. See also State TV new media ventures under EU scrutiny (EurActiv).

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03 July 2009

US - DOJ officially opens investigation into Google Book Search

(IDG News Service)
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a settlement involving Google Book Search for possible antitrust violations, following months of speculation that the agency had its eye on the service. In a filing to the judge overseeing the settlement of a lawsuit filed by The Authors Guild against Google, the DOJ informed the court that it has opened an investigation into the proposed settlement after reviewing public comments of concern. Those comments suggest that the agreement might violate the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law, the DOJ said.

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14 June 2009

EU - Commission clears ARCEP's proposal to maintain regulation in French broadcasting transmission services

(RAPID)
The European Commission has cleared the proposal of the French telecoms regulator ARCEP to maintain regulatory obligations on the incumbent TV transmission services operator TDF. The regulation will apply to those TDF masts and sites that are impossible or very difficult to replicate. Alternative transmission service providers need to have access to these sites under adequate conditions to provide competing transmission services to digital television broadcasters and multiplex operators. At the same time, however, the Commission invites ARCEP to monitor the extent to which TDF's sites can be replicated and the competitive developments on the market so as to ensure that the regulatory obligations to be imposed on TDF remain justified and proportionate.

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08 April 2009

eu - Antitrust: Commission welcomes judgment of the Court of Justice in French broadband case

(RAPID)
The European Commission welcomes the judgment by the European Court of Justice (Case C-202/07) dismissing in its entirety France Télécom's appeal of a 2007 judgment of the Court of First Instance (Case T-340/03). The 2007 judgment had confirmed the Commission decision of 2003 sanctioning Wanadoo Interactive S.A., at the time a subsidiary of France Télécom, for an abuse of a dominant position in the form of predatory pricing. Today?s judgment confirms the Commission finding that the abusive practices of Wanadoo restricted market entry by competing internet providers, and thus harmed consumers.

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EU: Commission launches new consultation on state funding of public service broadcasting

(RAPID)
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on a revised draft for a new Communication laying down the rules that it intends to apply to state funding of public service broadcasting. Member States and stakeholders have the opportunity to submit their views on the proposed text by 8 May 2009 at the latest. On the basis of the comments received, the Commission intends to adopt a modernised Broadcasting Communication later this year. Main changes compared to the previous draft concern clarifications on the principles of technology neutrality and editorial independence, an increased focus on the key principles with enhanced flexibility for implementation at Member State level and more clarity on holding public service reserves.

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02 March 2009

FR -Vivendi poursuit France Télécom au niveau européen

(Silicon.fr)
Nouveaux ennuis en perspective pour France Télécom. Après avoir été condamné coup sur coup par le Conseil de la concurrence et le tribunal de Commerce pour l'exclusivité de l'iPhone et sa stratégie de contenus exclusifs autour du sport, l'opérateur historique subit un nouvel assaut de la part de Vivendi. La maison mère de SFR et de Canal+ va déposer une plainte auprès de la Commission européenne pour abus de position dominante. "Nous estimons qu'il y a une position dominante de France Télécom avec les prix pratiqués en matière d'abonnement et de tarifs d'accès à la boucle locale" (dégroupage), a expliqué Jean-Bernard Lévy, président du directoire de Vivendi.

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25 February 2009

EU - Battle of the browsers steps up a gear

(FT)
Google has sought a seat at the table in influencing the new restrictions that European regulators are set to impose on Microsoft's browser business, as it officially staked out a position against Microsoft in the software company's latest anti-trust battle with Brussels. The move comes after the European Commission filed a statement of objections against Microsoft, taking issue with its practice of "tying" its Internet Explorer browser with its dominant Windows PC operating system. In a blog posting, Sundar Pinchai, product manager for Google's Chrome browser, said that the internet company had applied to become a "third party" in the case.

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05 February 2009

FR - Orange va en cassation après la perte de l'exclusivité du iPhone

(Reuters)
Orange a annoncé sa décision de se pourvoir en cassation après la confirmation par la cour d'appel de Paris de la suspension de son exclusivité sur la commercialisation de l'iPhone d'Apple en France. Rejetant un recours d'Apple et d'Orange, la cour d'appel a en effet validé la décision prise le 17 décembre par le Conseil de la concurrence, à la demande de Bouygues Telecom.

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18 January 2009

EU - Microsoft is accused again

(BBC)
The European Commission has accused Microsoft of harming competition by bundling its Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system. The commission said it had reached the preliminary view that the US software giant had undermined consumer choice and infringed EU rules. See Antitrust: Commission confirms sending a Statement of Objections to Microsoft on the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows (RAPID). The Commission believes that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world's PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match. The Commission is concerned that through the tying, Microsoft shields Internet Explorer from head to head competition with other browsers which is detrimental to the pace of product innovation and to the quality of products which consumers ultimately obtain. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the ubiquity of Internet Explorer creates artificial incentives for content providers and software developers to design websites or software primarily for Internet Explorer which ultimately risks undermining competition and innovation in the provision of services to consumers.

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13 January 2009

EU-Parlamentarier kritisieren Kommissionspläne zur Regulierung des öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks

(Heise)
Auf der Plenarsitzung des Europäischen Parlaments am gestrigen Montag in Straßburg übten die Abgeordneten erneut Kritik am aktuellen Entwurf (PDF-Datei) des Nachfolgedokuments der sogenannten "Rundfunkmitteilung" von 2001, in dem die EU-Kommission die Finanzierung des öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks einheitlicher regeln will. Der Streit entzündet sich an der Frage, wie sehr die Kommission den Mitgliedsstaaten im sensiblen Feld der Finanzierung des öffentlichen Rundfunks "hineinregiere", wie viele Parlamentarier es nennen.

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11 January 2009

FR - La distribution de contenus exclusifs par un FAI en question

(01net)
Le gpovernement a demandé au Conseil de la concurrence de rendre un avis sur les activités de fournisseur d'accès à Internet et la distribution de contenus exclusifs. Orange a lancé l'année dernière une chaîne de foot, réservée exclusivement à ses abonnés moyennant 6 euros mensuels. Puis, sur le même mode de distribution, la chaîne Orange cinema séries a vu le jour. Ces cinq chaînes consacrées au 7e art et aux fictions télévisées sont disponibles pour 12 euros mensuels. Au grand dam des autres opérateurs et FAI qui ne peuvent pas distribuer leur contenu à leurs propres abonnés.

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25 December 2008

DE - D Telekom switches tack on broadband

(FT)
Deutsche Telekom has abandoned a contentious plan to build its own ultra-fast broadband network in its domestic market and has instead linked up with rival Vodafone to develop the next-generation network across Germany. The move follows years of criticism from the European Commission, which feared that DT's go-it-alone approach, linked to a demand to keep rivals off its network, would lead to a new monopoly in Europe's largest telecoms market.

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23 November 2008

EU - Brüssel, ARD und ZDF - Stellungnahme zu 6 Mythen vom medienpolitischen Stammtisch

(RAPID)
Vortrag von Viviane Reding, EU-Medienkommissarin, Zu Gast bei Peter Müller: "Europa contra ARD und ZDF? Welche Perspektive lässt die EU-Kommission dem gebührenfinanzierten öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunk in Deutschland?", Berlin, 10. November 2008

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27 October 2008

EU - Europe's Telecoms Incumbents: Friends or Foes of a Single Telecoms Market?

(RAPID)
Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner, CEO Summit of the European Telecommunications Networks? Operators Associations, Venice, 25 October 2008

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26 September 2008

US - Antitrust regulators seek more commitment from Microsoft

(CNET News)
Microsoft has made some progress developing a set of documents required as part of its antitrust consent decree, but the work could be accomplished much more quickly if the company took on a less grudging attitude, state and federal antitrust regulators said during a status conference meeting held to asses Microsoft's compliance with the consent decree.

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06 August 2008

EU - State aid: Commission approves rescue loan for TV 2 Denmark

(RAPID)
The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty's rules on state aid, a credit facility granted by the Danish Ministry of Culture to support TV 2 Danmark AS. The Commission concluded that the credit facility, which addresses the company's cash flow problems, constitutes rescue aid in line with the EU rules on state aid to companies in difficulty. In due time, the Commission will review whether the credit is fully reimbursed or whether appropriate restructuring measures to restore the long term viability of TV 2 Danmark AS are taken.

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20 July 2008

EU - The way ahead for the Broadcasting Communication

(RAPID)
Speech by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, Broadcasting conference, Strasbourg, 17 July 2008

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29 June 2008

EU - State aid for broadcasting

(RAPID)
Speech by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, Medienforum, Cologne, 9th June 2008

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01 June 2008

UK - Call for controls on BBC website

(BBC)
There should be tighter controls on the management of the BBC's website - in part to prevent it stifling commercial rivals, the BBC Trust has said. After reviewing bbc.co.uk, the trust said it was "an excellent service" but that its content had to be different from that on rival websites. And it criticised the site's management for a £3.5m overspend last year.

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14 May 2008

EU - Commission clears TomTom's proposed acquisition of digital map provider Tele Atlas

(RAPID)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Tele Atlas by TomTom, both of the Netherlands. Tele Atlas is a provider of navigable digital maps and TomTom produces portable navigation devices (PNDs - often known as satellite navigation devices or SatNavs).

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EU - BECTA to appeal about Microsoft Interoperability issue

(ITProPortal.com)
The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) is going forward with plans to appeal to the European Commission over the interoperability of Microsoft Products that are commonly used in the UK Education sector. BECTA has been pursuing two separate complaints, one regarding the way Microsoft licenses its products to schools and the other with regards to compatibility problems that have been plaguing Office 2007, especially when it comes to backward compatibility with Microsoft's own Office 2003 and Microsoft Works.

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10 May 2008

EU - Microsoft appeals €899m EU fine

(Guardian)
Microsoft raised the stakes again in its long-running legal battle with the European Commission by lodging an appeal with the Court of First Instance against the record €899m fine imposed on February 27.

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11 March 2008

EU - Commission clears proposed acquisition of DoubleClick by Google

(RAPID)
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the online advertising technology company DoubleClick by Google, both of the US. The Commission?s in-depth investigation concluded that the transaction would be unlikely to have harmful effects on consumers, either in ad serving or in intermediation in online advertising markets. The Commission has therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or a significant part of it.

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02 March 2008

EU sends TomTom formal objections to Tele Atlas deal

(Reuters)
The European Commission is sending a "statement of objections" to TomTom on its plans to purchase map supplier Tele Atlas. TomTom, the world's biggest maker of car navigation devices, had offered some remedies to meet concerns within the European Commission that the deal would be anti-competitive but, the European Union executive was unable to accept them before the deadline for sending the "statement of objections" . The statement does not, however, mean the deal will be rejected. Instead, TomTom will have to come up with better remedies. The deadline for a decision is May 5.

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27 February 2008

EU - EC fines Microsoft record $1.4bn

(BBC News)
The European Commission has fined US computer giant Microsoft for defying sanctions imposed on it for anti-competitive behaviour. Microsoft must now pay a record 899m euros ($1.4bn; £680.9m) after it failed to comply with a 2004 ruling that it abused its position. The ruling said that Microsoft was guilty of not providing key code to rival software makers. see also Commission Press Release and frequently asked questions

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09 February 2008

Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google

(Economist)
Microsoft should be allowed to buy Yahoo! - and Google should be free to fight back. see also When clouds collide and A $45 billion bet (Economist)

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14 January 2008

EU - EC launches new Microsoft probes

(BBC)
The European Commission is launching two new anti-competition investigations against US computer giant Microsoft. The first will look at whether Microsoft unfairly ties its Explorer internet browser to its Windows operating system. In a parallel probe, the Commission will look at the interoperability of Microsoft software with rival products.

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10 January 2008

DE - Commission launches public consultation on State funding of public service broadcasting

(RAPID)
The European Commission has published a consultation paper on the future framework which will apply to State funding of public service broadcasting. This consultation gives Member States and stakeholders the opportunity to submit their views at an early stage, before any Commission proposal, on the possible revision of the Broadcasting Communication. Comments should be submitted by 10 March 2008. Having reviewed the comments, the Commission may come forward later this year with a proposal for a revised Broadcasting Communication, with a view to its adoption in the first half of 2009.

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01 January 2008

EU - Commission authorises French aid scheme for video game creation

(RAPID)
The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty rules on state aid, a French tax credit aimed at encouraging video game creation. This tax credit may be granted only to video games that meet the criteria of quality, originality, and contributing to cultural diversity. After an in-depth investigation, the Commission has concluded that this measure qualifies for the exemption provided for by the EC Treaty for aid to promote culture. See also UK Government and ELSPA speak out on French tax breaks (MCV).

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15 December 2007

EU - Commission authorises French aid scheme for video game creation

(RAPID)
The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty rules on state aid, a French tax credit aimed at encouraging video game creation. This tax credit may be granted only to video games that meet the criteria of quality, originality, and contributing to cultural diversity. After an in-depth investigation that began in 2006, the Commission has concluded that this measure qualifies for the exemption provided for by the EC Treaty for aid to promote culture.

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01 December 2007

EU - Commission advocates more competition in airline ticket distribution

(RAPDI)
The European Commission has adopted a proposal to simplify and modernise the two-decade-old rules for computerised reservation systems (CRS). These systems are used by travel agents to book airline tickets on behalf of their customers. The revised rules will allow CRSs and subscribing travel agents to expand their offer and better compete in the airline distribution market. See Q&A on the revised rules for computerised airline ticket reservation systems

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EU - Commission fines professional videotape producers over ?74 million for price fixing cartel

(RAPID)
The European Commission has imposed a total of ? 74 790 000 fines on Sony, Fuji and Maxell for fixing prices for professional videotapes sold to customers in Europe, in violation of the EC Treaty?s ban on cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 81). Between 1999 and 2002, Sony, Fuji and Maxell managed to raise or otherwise control prices through a series of regular meetings and other illicit contacts. Sony's fine has been increased by 30% for obstructing the Commission's investigation during on-site inspections at its premises. Fuji's and Maxell's fines are reduced by 40% and 20% respectively because they co-operated with the investigation. For the calculation of the fines, the Commission applied for the first time its new 2006 Guidelines.

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EU - Commission approves proposed acquisition of Tele2 Italy and Tele2 Spain by Vodafone

(RAPID)
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Spanish and Italian subsidiaries of the Swedish telecommunications group Tele2 AB by the UK-based telecommunications group Vodafone. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

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EU - Commission opens in-depth investigation into Tom Tom's proposed acquisition of Tele Atlas

(RAPID)
The European Commission has opened a detailed investigation under the EU merger regulation into TomTom's proposed acquisition of Tele Atlas, both of The Netherlands. TomTom produces portable navigation devices (PNDs) and Tele Atlas is one of two producers of navigable digital maps, a crucial input for PND manufacturers.

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14 November 2007

EU will investigate Google deal

(BBC)
European Union regulators have launched an in-depth investigation into Google's $3.1bn takeover of online advertising firm DoubleClick. The EU Commission said its initial probe had shown the deal would raise competition concerns. It has set itself a deadline of 2 April 2008 to reach a decision

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23 October 2007

EU - Regulators and EU agree over splitting telecoms companies

(EurActiv)
At a meeting with top officials of the Italian regulatory authority for telecommunications, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding was determined to introduce functional separation as a "last-resort remedy" in telecoms liberalisation. Reding reaffirmed her conviction that "national telecoms regulators should be given this tool that can promote both competition and investment". She stressed, however, that the disputed splitting-up of telecoms incumbents should be applied only as a "last-resort remedy to address the stubborn cases where other remedies have failed".

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03 October 2007

EU - Antitrust probe against Qualcomm

(Reuters)
The European Commission launches a formal antitrust proceedings against U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm after complaints that its patent licensing for third-generation mobile telephones broke competition rules.

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29 September 2007

US - Google defends DoubleClick bid

(Computing)
Google has stepped up its battle to acquire advertising group DoubleClick, as the company's chief legal officer appeared before the US Congress. David Drummond told the Senate hearing that the proposed $3.1bn deal would be beneficial to the public and US enterprise. A subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will decide if the merger risks infringing on privacy and antitrust rules. The attack on Google's planned purchase has been led by key rival Microsoft. The software giant's general counsel, Brad Smith, told the hearing that acquiring DoubleClick would make Google, "the overwhelmingly dominant pipeline for all forms of online advertising."

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17 September 2007

EU - Microsoft loses anti-trust appeal

(BBC)
Microsoft has lost its appeal against a record 497m euro fine imposed by the European Commission in a long-running competition dispute. The European Court of First Instance upheld the ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position.

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16 September 2007

EU asks the customers' opinion on the DoubleClick-Google affair

(EDRI-gram)
As Google plans to buy out U.S. web advertising supplier DoubleClick, the European Commission has already sent questionnaires to Google customers on the matter, even before Google has actually filed to the European Union's top antitrust regulator for the purchase. This is considered a rather unusual step as although the European Commission has frequently sent questionnaires to customers, it has done so once a deal has been formally filed and not before.

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12 September 2007

EU - Microsoft antitrust decision 'to make or break EC'

(Silicon News)
When a European court hands down its landmark Microsoft antitrust decision next week, at stake will be nothing less than the power of the European Commission to regulate the high-tech industry. The decision by the 13-judge Grand Chamber of the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg will determine whether the European Union's executive arm ruled properly in 2004 that Microsoft used its near-monopoly Windows system to push rivals out of the marketplace.

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01 August 2007

EU - Commission authorises acquisition of Télé 2 France by SFR

(RAPID)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the purchase of the fixed telephony and Internet access businesses of Télé 2 France by the French mobile telephony operator SFR. When it was originally notified, the planned operation raised serious competition concerns in pay-TV markets in France and the Commission launched an in-depth investigation. These concerns have been addressed by commitments guaranteeing DSL operators equal treatment with the new entity as regards access to television content owned by the Vivendi group, of which SFR forms part. In the light of these commitments, the Commission has now concluded that the merger will not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

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EU - Commission ends Court proceedings against Hungary after amendment of Media Act

(RAPID)
The European Commission has withdrawn its pending case at the Court of Justice against Hungary after the latter abolished a provision of its Media Act that prevented cable operators from providing cable TV services to more than one third of the Hungarian population. The provision had limited competition on the markets for cable TV and broadband internet services in Hungary: such a lack of competition typically leads to higher prices, less innovation and slower take-up of these services. The relevant provision of the Hungarian Media Act prevented the consolidation of the cable networks, in breach of the Commission Directive on electronic communications, but this has now been abolished.

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EU - Commission approves proposed joint venture between SES Astra and Eutelsat

(RAPID)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between SES Astra of Luxembourg and Eutelsat of France for the provision of satellite infrastructure for broadcasting mobile TV as well as voice and data communication services to mobile devices. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

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EU - Commission confirms sending of Statement of Objections to Intel

(RAPID) The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Intel on 26th July 2007. The SO outlines the Commission's preliminary view that Intel has infringed the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82) with the aim of excluding its main rival, AMD, from the x86 Computer Processing Units (CPU) market

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31 July 2007

EU - Start of reduced mobile phone roaming charges

(BBC)
Mobile phone companies have to cut by up to 70% the amount they charge customers for making and receiving calls between EU countries. Under the new EU rules, the companies have to offer customers now a new pricing structure, with cheaper "roaming" fees.

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27 July 2007

EU - EC issues charges against Intel

(Reuters)
The European Commission issued formal charges against Intel for allegedly using illegal tactics against smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices. The Commission has spent years investigating Intel's tactics to determine whether it acted unfairly to preserve its dominance over AMD.

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05 July 2007

EU - Commission fines Telefónica over €151 million

(RAPID)
The European Commission has fined the Spanish incumbent telecoms operator Telefónica €151 875 000 for a very serious abuse of its dominant position in the Spanish broadband market. Telefónica imposed unfair prices in the form of a margin squeeze between the wholesale prices it charged to competitors and the retail prices it charged to its own customers. In so doing, Telefónica weakened its competitors, making their continued presence and growth difficult: competitors were forced to make losses if they wanted to match Telefónica's retail prices. With high wholesale costs and weakened retail competition on the broadband market, Spanish consumers pay 20% more than the EU-15 average for broadband access. The Spanish broadband penetration rate is 20% below EU-15 average, and its growth is nearly 30% below that of the EU-15. see also frequently asked questions and Press conference on Telefónica decision – introductory remarks Neelie Kroes European Commissioner for Competition Policy, Press conference, Brussels, 4th July 2007.

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22 June 2007

EU - State aid: Commission maintains current rules for film and TV production

(RAPID)
The European Commission has adopted a Communication extending until 31st December 2009 at the latest the application of the current rules on state aid to cinematographic and other audiovisual works. This Cinema Communication extends the rules laid down in the previous Communications of 2001 and 2004. This continuity should further encourage Europe's audiovisual industry by maintaining the current conditions and thereby helping the industry to face future challenges in a highly competitive market.

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21 May 2007

EU - Broadband rollout and competition policy ? what role for public funding?

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, 'Bridging the Broadband Gap' Conference, Brussels, 15th May 2007

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27 April 2007

EU - Microsoft asks EC for more details on licensing fees

(CNET News)
The software giant, in response to the Commission's statement of objections over pricing for licensing its Work Group Server protocol technology, said it will waive its right to a hearing on the matter and continue discussions with the antitrust agency. The issue centers on whether Microsoft is providing its Windows Server protocol technology under "reasonable and nondiscriminatory" terms.

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07 April 2007

EU - Q&A: iTunes price probe

(BBC)
The European Commission is investigating Apple and some of the world's top record companies over how they sell music through the firm's online iTunes store in Europe. Brussels says commercial agreements between the companies limit consumer choice and violate EU laws governing the single market. Brussels is not quibbling about iTunes' dominance of the market but, rather, how it goes about selling its songs to music lovers across Europe. Consumers can currently only download songs from the iTunes website in their own country, preventing someone in Belgium buying tracks from the British version of the site.

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04 April 2007

EU - European Commission acts against iTunes


The European Commission can confirm that it has sent a Statement of Objections to major record companies and Apple in relation to agreements between each record company and Apple that restrict music sales: consumers can only buy music from the iTunes' on-line store in their country of residence. Consumers are thus restricted in their choice of where to buy music, and consequently what music is available, and at what price. see also EU price probe into Apple iTunes (BBC)

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08 March 2007

US - Microsoft not meeting deadlines in antitrust settlement

(CNET News)
Federal antitrust officials have expressed growing concern that Microsoft is falling behind on deadlines to revise technical documentation to licensees. As part of the 2002 consent decree that came out of an antitrust settlement, Microsoft is required to disclose server protocols to rivals as a means to allow interoperability between the parties' products.

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05 March 2007

EU - Kroes sounds bugle for next Microsoft battle

(EurActiv)
The Commission's anti-trust chief has sent another objection to Microsoft, questioning the software giant's pricing policy for granting access to information on its server protocols.

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18 April 2006

US - New blow for Microsoft in EU row

(BBC)
Microsoft has lost the latest round of its battle against sanctions in Europe. A US judge quashed the firm's demands that rival Novell hand over documents it presented to the European Commission for use in an anti-trust case. The judge in the case said he had turned down the request as Microsoft was trying to 'circumvent and undermine' European law. Microsoft is fighting a European Union (EU) ruling that could trigger fines of up to 2m euros ($2.4m; £1.4m) a day.

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10 March 2006

EU - Role of the Monitoring Trustee in the Microsoft case

(RAPID)
The European Commission has published its Decision defining the role of the Trustee in the Microsoft case, the curriculum vitae of the Monitoring Trustee, as well as the curricula vitae of his advisors. The Trustee Decision is the formal document which sets the parameters for the Trustee?s work in monitoring Microsoft?s compliance with the March 2004 Decision (see IP/04/382) in order to advise the Commission on that compliance.

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04 March 2006

EU - Microsoft accuses Brussels of collusion

Microsoft was warned that its behaviour was leading inexorably towards large fines from the European Commission after the US software giant accused the competition body of colluding with the company's rivals. Neelie Kroes, European Union competition commissioner, said: "If we pursue the line we are following now, there will be fines and they won't be small fines." The Commission was accused by Microsoft of "secret collaboration" with the group's rivals and violating its rights of defence.

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25 February 2006

EU - Microsoft's response to the Statement of Objections

(Microsoft)
Microsoft is making available its formal response to the Statement of Objections issued in December 2005 by the European Commission. The response details the evidence that Microsoft is in full compliance with the technical documentation requirements imposed by the Commission in 2004. It also details numerous ways in which the Commission had ignored key information and denied Microsoft due process in defending itself. Microsoft also is releasing two independent expert reports by software system engineering professors who examined the technical documentation created by Microsoft.

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18 February 2006

EU - Microsoft's attack on EC is 'outrageous'

(ZDNet UK)
The Free Software Foundation Europe expressed outrage at Microsoft's criticism of the European Commission, and of the UK expert appointed to ensure that Microsoft complies with the antitrust ruling.

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27 December 2004

EU - Microsoft loses fight to delay EU sanctions

(out-law.com
The European Court of First Instance has rejected Microsoft's request that sanctions imposed on the software company following an antitrust ruling by the Commission be suspended until an appeal of the antitrust decision is completed. Microsoft is obliged to implement the sanctions immediately, even if it decides to appeal the Court of First Instance?s decision. This means that Microsoft will now have to disclose to any undertaking wishing to develop and distribute work group server operating systems the interfaces required for their products to be able to "talk" with the ubiquitous Windows operating system. Microsoft will also have to offer for sale in Europe a version of Windows without Windows Media Player, although it may also market the operating system with Windows Media Player.

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26 November 2004

EU - Microsoft evidence stands, says judge

(Guardian)
A European Union judge said he will continue to take into account testimony from former complainants in the EU's antitrust case against Microsoft, even though they had withdrawn support for the case. Judge Bo Vesterdorf said he would give a decision on whether to suspend the EU order for Microsoft to change its business practices and pay a ?497m (£320m) fine by Christmas.

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05 July 2004

EU - Microsoft pays fine in full

(CNET News.com)
Microsoft has paid the $600 million fine handed down by the European Commission in its antitrust ruling against the company. Microsoft deposited the payment in an escrow account while the company's appeal is taking place. While Microsoft had the option of submitting a promissory note in place of such a payout until proceedings are complete, the company dipped into its massive cash reserves, estimated at $50 billion, to cover the largest antitrust fine ever levied against a company by the European Union. see also Microsoft wants EU to learn from its U.S. victory (Reuters).

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09 June 2004

EU - Microsoft likely to gain stay of competition ruling, lawyers say

(International Herald Tribune)
Microsoft is likely to win a temporary reprieve of the European Commission's order for it to sell a version of Windows operating system without Media Player software included. In a landmark defeat for Microsoft, the commission in March ordered the U.S. software company to restore competition to the European software market by selling a version of Windows with Microsoft's own music and video player stripped out. The order takes effect later this month. Microsoft will ask the court to suspend that order until July and will seek a similar suspension for another order that requires the company to reveal more information about the Windows software code to rivals.

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08 June 2004

EU - Microsoft to fight record fine

(BBC)
Microsoft, the world's largest software company, has appealed against a European Union ruling that it abused its dominant market position. In March, Microsoft was hit with a record fine of 497m euros and ordered to change how it operates.

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10 May 2004

Microsoft refines image after EU ruling

(International Herald Tribune)
As Microsoft prepares its response to an adverse ruling from European antitrust regulators, the software powerhouse is stepping up efforts to portray itself as every consumer's best friend, rather than the bullying monopolist depicted in Brussels.

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