The Department of Justice announced today that it will not challenge a proposal by MyWire Inc. to form the Global News Service, an online subscription news aggregation service. The service would provide interconnections among different publishers’ online content, such as news articles and video and audio clips, that relate to the same topic. Based on representations made by MyWire, the department said that the formation and operation of the news service is not likely to reduce competition among Internet publishers and could provide procompetitive benefits to both publishers and consumers. The Department of Justice’s position was stated in a business review letter to counsel for MyWire from Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
The service would provide Internet publishers with a “related-item” content block that a publisher would add to its Web page. The block would contain hyperlinked abstracts of content from other participating publishers’ Web sites. By clicking these hyperlinks, consumers would be able to browse among related material from different publishers’ websites.
“Global News Service has the potential to benefit consumers by allowing them to access a broad network of related content without having to conduct their own online searches,” said Assistant Attorney General Varney. “The service may also reduce publishers’ content distribution costs.”
MyWire intends to enter into non-exclusive bilateral content licensing agreements with numerous Internet publishers. The agreements would not prevent the publishers from joining competing online news aggregation services. MyWire would operate independently of Internet publishers and would set its own consumer subscription rates for access to all publishers’ fee-based content within the MyWire network. Consumers would also be able to use the service for free to access publishers’ free content.
Under the Department of Justice’s business review procedure, an organization may submit a proposed action to the Antitrust Division and receive a statement as to whether the division currently intends to challenge the action under the antitrust laws.
A file containing the business review request and the department’s response may be examined in the Antitrust Documents Group of the Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 1010, Washington, D.C. 20530. After a 30-day waiting period, the documents supporting the business review will be added to the file, unless a basis for their exclusion for reasons of confidentiality has been established under the business review procedure.