Senator Herb Kohl vows new probe into Google antitrust issues

March 11, 2011

[ChattahBox US News] – Having seen Google’s power first-hand after they dropped ChattahBox from Google News without explanation we rather like the sound of this story;

The man regarded as the Senate’s top legislator on antitrust issues – Democratic Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin – is vowing to make media consolidation, net neutrality and Google’s increasing dominance his primary concerns in the 112th Congress.

In a statement issued today the 76-year old Senator, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights says these issues are his top priorities.

In December Senator Kohl urged the Justice Department to undertake a “careful review” of Google’s attempt to buy the travel search firm, ITA. Today he once more singled out the search giant as a cause for concern;

“In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world’s largest search engine has increased,” says his statement. “In this regard, we will closely examine allegations by sites that compete with Google that they’re being treated unfairly in search ranking and in their ability to purchase advertising.”

The growth of streaming video and the problems faced by providers in reaching their audience will also be studied by  Senator Kohl’s subcommittee. This review will include scrutiny of Comcast’s recent merger with NBC, and whether conditions imposed on the deal to enable competition from new sources of online content are being met.

“Internet video holds the promise of providing consumers an alternative to expensive pay TV,” Mr. Kohl explains in the statement. “And the long-awaited ability to purchase only the programming they want.”

The panel will examine the problems faced by video programmers in distributing their content online, the difficulty of acquiring programming, and whether ISP’s are actually creating such problems on purpose.

Senator Kohl also intends his subcommittee to explore the current state of the high-speed broadband market.

“Maintaining competitive choices in this industry is crucial, both to consumers and the national economy,” he writes. “We will also examine network neutrality and whether consumers have the freedom to access the content they wish without interference from their service provider.”

And the Senator is barely warmed up – In addition to such pertinent topics his committee is already pledged to investigate competition in the freight railroad business, prescription drugs, agriculture, the energy field and many others.

Source: Politico


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