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The Washington Post

AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner draws regulatory scrutiny

AT&T is set to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, giving it control over the latter's massive content if the deal is approved by regulators. Time Warner owns HBO, CNN and TBS. The deal will give AT&T multiple sources of revenues including potentially subscription revenues and advertising fees. They could also earn from the data based on the content that customers consume. The deal has sparked criticism from regulators with US lawmakers calling for an antitrust hearing on the issue, reports The Washington Post. Some antitrust experts think the FCC should be involved in the deal as it can put the company's competitors at an unfair disadvantage in different ways, including favoring its content over competitors in its platforms, offering unlimited streaming of Time Warner content or overcharging competitors to gain access to its content. The acquisition could also encourage other buyouts, adding more consolidation to the industry. Other carriers Verizon and Comcast are also buying content as they can drive network revenues.

Key Takeaway: 

AT&T’s acquisition deal with Time Warner, producer of entertainment content such as HBO, CNN and TBS, for $85.4 billion received much regulatory scrutiny for antitrust concerns that the company can have massive control over the content that Time Warner creates, its revenues and distribution, which can be used to throttle competitors to favor its content and services.

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October 24, 2016

Former mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to get cities ready for driverless cars

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to develop policy recommendations for cities to get them ready for the coming of self-driving cars. His philantrophic arm Bloomberg Philantrophies and the Aspen Institute will reach out to mayors, academics and experts to talk and plan about the future of autonomous vehicles. As a start, five cities will serve as testing grounds, including Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Buenos Aires and Paris, with five more cities to be announced by the end of the year. According to The Washington Post, key issues cities need to look at are road maintenance, workers' training, institution design and land use planning. It is also an opportunity for cities to address pedestrian safety, carbon reduction and economic mobility, said James Anderson of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Key Takeaway: 

Former mayor and philantrophist Michael Bloomberg plans to have a discussion with mayors, the academe and experts to talk about policy recommendations cities can adopt as more driverless cars are expected on roads in the near future.

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October 24, 2016

Visa and MasterCard to streamline chip card certification for merchants

Visa and MasterCard announced new policies that could speed up businesses' transition from magnetic stripe cards to chip card technology. Both have streamlined the certification process, reducing the time, cost and complexity it takes. They have also waived chargebacks for fraudulent transactions below $25 up to April 2018. Since October, retailers have paid millions on fraud costs while they have yet to update their payment terminals from magnetic swipe to EMV chip cards. According to the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research, more than half of businesses surveyed have installed chip card technology but are still waiting for certification, with 60% saying the process has taken over 6 months. There are now over 300 million chip cards released with 1.2 million retail locations accepting them.

Key Takeaway: 

Visa and MasterCard announced they will streamline the certification process for merchants to start accepting EMV chip cards, dubbed as more secure in countering credit card fraud than magnetic cards.

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June 28, 2016

Federal court decision upholds net neutrality

A federal court decision on Tuesday upheld proposed net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission which seek to ban Internet service providers from providing preferential treatments, such as speeding up websites, to content companies in exchange for a fee. It also proposes for ISPs to be reclassified as telecommunications companies therefore subjecting it to stricter data protection and privacy rules. It is now up to the FCC to implement the regulations it proposed. According to the two judges that voted for the decision, Internet communications has become more prominent in people's daily lives that it is as important as the phone system. Regulators and consumer advocates lauded the court's decision, the third time the FCC had settled the matter in a jury. Internet service providers such as telecommunications and cable companies could still make their appeal in court. 

Key Takeaway: 

A 2-1 vote by a federal appeals court bans Internet service providers from regulating Internet traffic; subjects them too to stricter data protection and privacy rules usually reserved for telecom companies.

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June 14, 2016

Target embraces new strategy to cater to customers

Target under its new CEO Brian Cornell, formerly from PepsiCo, is undergoing a major rebranding and repositioning strategy in its stores. It had opened smaller store fronts in some cities and expanded its organic merchandise to attract more millennial shoppers. Millennials now outnumber baby boomers and are expected to spend about $600 billion this year. The company has also added pick up centers for online orders in its stores and have stocked shelves in bigger outlets based on local preferences to better cater to customers. In the most recent quarter, Target had increased sales in its signature categories - fashion, home, baby, kids and wellness products - by more than 7%. It also started campaigns targeted to Hispanics with Spanish ads and featured Latin American moms and celebrity Rodner Figueroa. The company is also testing Internet of Things technology that can send more customized offers and information to its shoppers via their smartphones. 

Key Takeaway: 

Shaped by new demographic trends as well as increased competition from online stores like Amazon, Target had rebuilt its strategy that includes localizing its merchandise, opening up smaller stores, adding pickup centers for online orders, and more.

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November 9, 2015

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