U.S. House Antitrust Chairman Calls Unwinding Facebook’s Instagram Buy ‘The Right Answer’ | Technology News
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative David Cicilline, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, said on Wednesday he would be “comfortable with unwinding” Facebook Inc’s acquisition of Instagram.
The antitrust subcommittee on Tuesday released a report on Big Tech’s abuses of market power but stopped short of naming specific companies or acquisitions that must be broken up.
Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told Reuters in an interview that Facebook should not have been allowed to buy Instagram, a deal that the Federal Trade Commission approved in 2012.
“I would be comfortable with unwinding that. I think that’s the right answer,” he said.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has said previously that Instagram was insignificant at the time it was purchased and that Facebook built it into the success it has become.
Any effort to unwind the deal would entail the government filing a lawsuit and asking a judge to order the divestiture.
The congressional report released on Tuesday said that Instagram was small at the time it was purchased, but that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw its potential and noted it was “building networks that are competitive with our own” and “could be very disruptive to us.”
According to the House panel’s report on Tuesday, the committee received an email from an unnamed former Instagram employee on Sunday that disputed Facebook’s contention that the two apps could not easily be separated.
“They can just roll back the changes they’ve been making over the past year and you’d have two different apps again,” the person wrote. “It’s turning something on and off.”
(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)
Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.
Rovner to oversee all entertainment programming decisions as part of new structure
NBCUniversal made it official on Monday, naming former Warner Bros. TV executive Susan Rovner as chairman of its entertainment programming division. She starts Monday.
Rovner will oversee all programming decisions at NBCU, including for scripted and unscripted content, late-night shows, and Peacock, its new streaming service. She’ll also be in charge of NBC’s slate of cable channels, including Bravo, E!, USA and Syfy, as well as first-run syndicated programming including “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
Rovner’s hire is the last piece of NBCU’s new structure under CEO Jeff Shell, which reorganized the television side of the business into three parts: Direct to Consumer, Entertainment Programming and Entertainment Business. Peacock chief Matt Strauss runs the direct to consumer unit, while Frances Berwick heads up the Entertainment Business division, where she’ll work closely with Rovner. Both will report to Matt Lazarus, chairman of television and streaming.
“Susan is the bold creative force we need as we rethink the future of our business,” Lazarus said. “Throughout this process I have been consistently impressed by her strong perspective, track record of success and passion for content. Susan joins a great team that is poised to begin a new era at NBCU.”
Rovner left Warner Bros. TV last month after two decades, where she most recently served as co-president with Brett Paul. Rovner had been seen by many in Hollywood as a top contender to eventually takeover for Peter Roth as chairman of Warner Bros. Television. During Rovner’s tenure, WB produced hit series including “Riverdale,” “The Flash,” “Gotham,” “Westworld,” “Watchmen,” “You,” “Shrill” and “Ted Lasso.”
Shell has overhauled NBCU’s TV and streaming operations since taking over for Steve Burke in January, ousting Paul Telegdy
Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison’s pursuit of a deal with TikTok could win him two prizes at once: a flashy new customer for his company’s lagging cloud-computing business and a victory over a fierce rival.
Mr. Ellison, 76 years old and chairman of the company, has reason to be a big fan of Chinese-owned TikTok, a video-sharing app famously beloved by young people. But first Oracle, TikTok and their partners have to get a deal done that could return the business-software company to the center of the tech world.
Mr. Ellison maneuvered Oracle ahead of Microsoft Corp. in the race to become TikTok’s U.S. tech partner, and personally lobbied President Trump to sign off on a preliminary agreement, people familiar with the talks said.
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Under the current deal terms, Oracle and Walmart Inc. would take a combined 20% stake in a new U.S.-based TikTok. Oracle would guarantee the security of U.S. user information to satisfy White House concerns that China’s government might get access to such data. But the parties, including TikTok’s Beijing-based owner, ByteDance Ltd., are still finalizing their agreement and need approval from both the U.S. and Chinese governments.
Oracle hasn’t said what it would pay for its planned 12.5% stake, though based on estimates for TikTok’s total valuation the investment could top $7 billion. An initial public offering of TikTok in the U.S., which the preliminary deal says would happen within a year, could return some of that money.
Winning the TikTok contest would pay other dividends for Mr. Ellison, most significantly boosting Oracle’s efforts to gain traction in the hot