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The US Week Ahead: Senate subcommittee to compare US and EU competition law

Congress will continue its focus on antitrust matters this week with another hearing on the issue set for Dec. 19.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing comparing competition law approaches to monopolies and abuse of dominance in the U.S. and European Union.

William Kovacic, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, is expected to be one of the testifying witnesses. In September, Kovacic told S&P Global Market Intelligence he believes that the FTC is the agency most likely to regulate social media companies.

"It's hard to imagine that with all of the tools the FTC has, that the agency will not emerge as a focal point for inquiries and possibly law enforcement," he said. "There's an inevitability about it."

Kovacic, who now teaches about global competition policy and law at George Washington University’s law school, also said that the FTC's investigation into Facebook Inc. would be a "bellwether" of future social media regulation. In March, the FTC announced that it was investigating whether Facebook's admissions about data privacy breaches constitute a violation of a 2011 consent order to improve transparency of its privacy policy as a consumer protection matter.

Other witnesses for the Dec. 19 hearing will include Geoffrey Manne, president and founder of the International Center for Law and Economics, a legal and economic research center; Abbot Lipsky, director of the Global Antitrust Institute at Scalia Law School at George Mason University’s Competition Advocacy Program; Eleanor Fox, a professor of trade regulation at New York University’s School of Law; and Jonathan Kanter, a partner at the law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP.

In 2017, Lipsky served as the acting director of the FTC’s competition bureau.

Ahead of the holidays, Congress will also be working to avoid a government shutdown for some agencies, with funding expiring Dec. 21.

On Dec. 16, The Washington Post reported that the White House and other federal agencies have begun advanced preparations for a partial government shutdown, as President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress appear unlikely to resolve their funding dispute before the end of the week.

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Federal government
Dec. 19

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights will host a hearing titled "A Comparative Look at Competition Law Approaches to Monopoly and Abuse of Dominance in the U.S. and EU."

Dec. 19

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's BroadbandUSA Program will host a webinar to engage the public and stakeholders to encourage expanded broadband connectivity.

Industry and think tank events
Dec. 18 The Federal Communications Bar Association will host an event titled "CLE: Intercarrier Compensation Reforms on The Horizon."
Dec. 20 An advisory committee to the World Radiocommunication Conference, which is held by the UN agency International Telecommunication Union, will hold a teleconference meeting.

Stories of note:

The FCC may begin 2019 short of its full slate of commissioners

FCC begins review of media ownership rules, classifies text messages

Facebook shareholders push for change, but Zuckerberg holds tight grip

Virtual providers eye 2019 growth, despite slowdowns from top 2 players

Part 1: Analysts weigh Charter's next move in 2019 as M&A integration winds down

Part 2: Previous wave of pay TV M&A sets stage for operators' 2019 initiatives