Antitrust watchers go big on drama, plot highlights

Penguin’s books are seen in a second-hand bookshop in central London on October 29, 2012. Britain’s Pearson has agreed to merge its Penguin book division with Bertelsmann’s Random House to create the world’s leading consumer publishing house, in apparent disdain for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. REUTERS / Stefan Wermot

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NEW YORK, Aug. 2 (Reuters) – Competition keepers are throwing the book at some individual targets. The Department of Justice took to court to read more Monday with book publisher Penguin Random House over its $2.2 billion acquisition of smaller rival Simon & Schuster, a case in which horror author Stephen King is among its witnesses. Separately, the Federal Trade Commission is wrestling with Facebook-owned Meta Platforms over its purchase of Inside Unlimited, the maker of a virtual reality fitness app. Both situations test new and important ideas. Meanwhile, trust regulators risk losing the bigger picture.

Penguin Random House, owned by German media group Bertelsmann (BTGGg.F), is the largest book publisher in the United States, so it is not unusual for its merger with a competitor to attract regulatory attention. Oddly enough, US antitrust advocate Jonathan Kanter and his team are mainly concerned that the deal will reduce the payments for the writers they read more, rather than raise the prices of books. FTC Chair Lina Khan has complained that Meta shopping It included, for an undisclosed price, an attempt to “buy its way to the top” – though the FTC did not scuttle Mark Zuckerberg’s earlier $1 billion acquisition of customer service software company Kustomer.

True, it makes sense that antitrust guardians would spend more time sweating over the little things. Facebook was allowed to buy Instagram in 2012, a deal that posed no threat to consumers due to the high prices because the two companies’ products are free. However, this merger has helped what is now the Meta Balloon to its current market value of $430 billion, with a dominant position in online advertising. The Department of Justice argues that the Penguin Random House deal will reduce quality, choice and innovation, reflecting the fact that consumers can be hurt without getting hit directly in the pocket.

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However, there are larger deals to scrutinize for more traditional reasons. Amazon.com (AMZN.O) Her $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM sealed off though Khan was an outspoken critic, read more about Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce empire and what she argues is its impact on the competition. Microsoft (MSFT.O) It is also seeking its biggest acquisition to date, paying $69 billion to “Call of Duty” video game maker Activision Blizzard. (ATVI.O) Although the software giant is home to the world’s most prominent gaming console, the Xbox. Since regulators have only limited resources, the search for a new plot creates the risk that the true story will be lost.

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The US Justice Department is asking a judge to prevent book publishing house Penguin Random House, owned by German media group Bertelsmann, from buying smaller rival Simon & Schuster from Paramount for $2.2 billion.

Horror writer Stephen King is expected to testify on behalf of the United States on August 2.

The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit on July 27 to prevent Meta Platforms from acquiring Inside Unlimited, the maker of a virtual reality fitness app.

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Editing by John Foley and Thomas Shum

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News Agency, which is committed under the principles of trust to impartiality, independence and freedom from bias.

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