Tag Archives: Urges

Israeli minister urges Airbnb boycott, talks up rival service
November 21, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli cabinet minister called on Wednesday for a boycott of Airbnb and promoted one of its rivals, escalating the government’s response to the home-rental company’s decision to delist Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie

“I call today on all those who support Israel and oppose discriminatory boycotts: they should cease using Airbnb and turn to other services,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told a diplomatic conference hosted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

“By the way, Booking.com is a great service,” added Erdan, the point-man in Israeli government efforts to combat pro-Palestinian boycotts.

Airbnb said on Monday it would remove some 200 settlement listings after hearing criticism from people who “believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced”.

Palestinians who want to establish an independent state taking in the West Bank have welcomed the San Francisco-based firm’s move. It does not apply to East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, other territories Israel captured in a 1967 war but which Israel has annexed, unlike the West Bank.

“Airbnb took a decision in the right direction to stop dealings with Israeli settlements, consistent with international legitimacy,” Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior official with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, told Reuters.

“Erdan’s incitement comes in the course of continued attempts by the Israeli extremist government to intimidate companies, parties and individuals who try to try to take good decisions that agree with international resolutions.”

    Human Rights Watch hailed Airbnb’s decision and, in a report on Tuesday, called on Booking.com to follow suit.

Booking.com and Airbnb did not immediately respond to Reuters emails seeking fresh comment.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, addressing Wednesday’s conference separately, backed Erdan’s call to boycott Airbnb and suggested Israel also deploy its own anti-discrimination laws.

Israel has said it would turn to the Trump administration and could back lawsuits against Airbnb within U.S. states that have legislated against anti-Israel boycotts.

In Israel, one 2017 law empowers courts to award cash compensation to claimants who prove they have been denied goods or services because of where they live.

“I checked yesterday with my office, with the attorney-general, whether we can operate this law, and the answer is positive,” Shaked said. “We need to do anything we can in order to fight them back in order that they will change their decision.”

Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Peter Graff

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Justice Department urges judge to block AT&T-Time Warner merger
March 22, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration urged a federal judge on Thursday to block AT&T Inc’s proposed $ 85 billion merger with Time Warner Inc, saying the deal would hand the company a “weapon” to harm competition and raise consumer prices.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes arrives ahead of arguments in the trial to determine if AT&T’s merger with Time Warner is legal under antitrust law at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

During opening statements in one of the most closely watched U.S. antitrust trials in years, Justice Department lawyer Craig Conrath said the deal would hike prices by more than $ 400 million annually, or an average of $ 0.45 a month for pay TV subscribers.

Conrath said AT&T would be able to use content from movie and TV show maker Time Warner including its Turner unit to prevent innovation. The merger will hurt 90 million U.S. pay TV subscribers, Conrath added.

“This is a weapon to harm competition,” Conrath told U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who will decide the case.

The Justice Department filed suit in November to stop AT&T, which has some 25 million pay-TV subscribers, from closing the deal. AT&T says a merger would benefit consumers by creating efficiencies. AT&T is the biggest pay-TV provider via subsidiary DirecTV.

Opening statements were delayed one day by bad weather in Washington.

Conrath suggested that AT&T would be able to hike fees that Turner charges for its content by about 10 percent if the merger were approved and that the company could withhold content from rival distributors. He referenced an internal email from Turner executives that Dish Network Corp’s Sling service would be “crap” without Turner content, as he paraphrased the stronger language in the email.

A pedestrian walks past an AT&T store in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Trump publicly criticized the deal as a candidate and as president, and the Republican president often has excoriated Time Warner’s CNN news network.

If the administration loses, that could open up the field for similar tie-ups between distributors and content providers. But a win could strengthen the hand of antitrust regulators looking at other, similarly structured mergers.

AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors, making the deal a so-called vertical merger between companies on the same supply chain. The vast majority of challenged mergers involve one rival buying another.

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The merger would hand AT&T, if it becomes the new owner of Time Warner, the motive and opportunity to refuse to license March Madness NCAA basketball tournament games, along with premium cable channel HBO and other content, to pay-TV rivals and online distributors, the Justice Department has said.

AT&T lawyer Daniel Petrocelli had asked for access to communications between the White House and Justice Department about the deal, but the judge denied the request.

If the government loses, Verizon Communications Inc and Charter Communications Inc could strike deals to buy movie or television makers and squeeze smaller pay-TV providers.

AT&T has said the merger would result in more than $ 2.5 billion in annual cost savings by 2020. It argues that the deal is crucial to compete with companies like Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc.

The internet companies pose two challenges to pay TV. They either compete with cable and satellite television for ad dollars or provide cheaper online video that has hurt pricey pay-TV. Some do both.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham

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