Senator calls for Apple Music antitrust investigation

monopoly (1)A US Senator has called on two federal agencies to look into whether Apple is playing monopoly with its music streaming services.

Democratic Senator Al Franken is concerned that some Apple practices could limit choices and raise prices for consumers. He has written to the attorney general Loretta Lynch and Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

The FTC is looking into complaints about Apple’s rules governing app developers but has not opened a formal investigation.

The complaints focus on how Apple plays two roles in music streaming. It provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and takes a 30 per cent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods. Now it has its own streaming service.

Apple bans streaming companies from putting in their app advertisement that customers can pay less if they download the app from a website instead of the Apple platform. They are also blocked from advertising discounts.

“These types of restrictions seem to offer no competitive benefit and may undermine the competitive process, to the detriment of consumers, who may end up paying substantially more than the current market price point,” Franken wrote in his note.

He is not the only one complaining about Apple’s alleged antitrust antics. The consumer watchdog accused Apple of forcing the three big music labels to give exclusive rights to artists to wipe out free ad-supported music services.

“The FTC and Justice Department can ensure that Apple does not dominate the market and eliminate the free music sector by prohibiting it from entering into agreements with clauses that will give it market dominance,” the group said in its letter.