Government // Mobile & Wireless
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1/4/2010
04:41 PM
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TV Everywhere Challenged By Consumer Groups

Public interest groups claim that the broadband TV service violates antitrust laws by leaving out online video providers like Hulu.

Public interest groups petitioned the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission Monday to investigate TV service providers for regulatory violations concerning their TV Everywhere service.

The service is designed to give cable, satellite, and telecom subscribers access to premium TV shows over their broadband Internet connections as well as on their mobile phones when the content is available on handsets. The public interest groups, led by Free Press, fear TV Everywhere could leave out popular online content providers like Hulu.

"This is textbook antitrust violation," said University of Nebraska law professor Marvin Ammori, a senior advisor to Free Press, in a statement. "The old media giants are working together to kill off innovative online competitors and carve up the market for themselves. TV Everywhere is designed to eliminate competition at a pivotal moment in the history of television."

Comcast, the country's largest cable TV provider, inaugurated its version of the service, called XFinity TV Everywhere, last month and other major cable, satellite, and phone companies are waiting in the wings to launch TV Everywhere services.

Free Press and additional public interest groups appear to want to have the service investigated for regulatory and antitrust violations before it gains traction among consumers.

Telecom trade association National Cable and Telecommunications Association told the Washington Post that TV Everywhere doesn't violate any regulatory provisions. "The fact that market participants are experimenting with models in addition to fee- or advertiser-supported models is not a sign of anticompetitive conduct," said a spokesperson for the association. "It is a sign of a dynamic and rapidly changing market in which no one knows the ultimate outcome."

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