Midweek Mix: Is Our Tech Companies Learning?

Plus: Disney+ subscribers will need more moolah to watch 'Mulan'

One week after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was raked over the coals by a Congressional committee for stifling competition by buying or copying potential rivals, Facebook-owned Instagram on Wednesday launched its TikTok clone Reels in over 50 countries, including the U.S. Facebook even moved up the planned launch date in the U.S., apparently looking to capitalize on TikTok’s current political woes. That could be viewed either as opportunistic hustle on its part, or an example of precisely the sort of predatory behavior of which it stands accused.

As I referenced in a previous post, Zuckerberg, along with his counterparts from Apple, Amazon and Alphabet (Google), seemed taken aback by the amount of evidence the committee has collected on their possibly anti-competitive behavior and unprepared for the direct and detailed questions from Democrats on the committee (the CEOs were on much more comfortable terrain parrying the idiotic questions from Republicans about baseless conspiracy theories). It’s too early to tell where the antitrust committee’s investigation will lead (or the related DOJ probe). But throwing it back in members’ faces so soon after you were put on notice is unlikely to prove helpful to Facebook’s cause.

More moolah for ‘Mulan’

The streaming dam has begun to burst in Hollywood. But the flood is taking divergent paths. Disney announced this week that planned theatrical tent pole Mulan will actually debut on Disney+ instead. Unlike the streaming-first release of Hamilton, however, Mulan won’t come as part of your existing Disney+ subscription. Instead, subscribers will have to fork over an additional $29.99 to watch the live-action fantasy when it becomes available.

Elsewhere, layoffs have begun at NBCUniversal as the studio tries to restructure itself for its streaming future.


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Neil Young Sues Donald Trump Campaign for Copyright Infringement

Neil Young to Donald Trump: Not so fast rockin’ in the free world. On Tuesday, the legendary musician filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Trump’s campaign for playing his songs at campaign rallies. Young alleges that Trump’s campaign lacks license to publicly perform the compositions entitled Rockin’ in the Free World and Devil’s Sidewalk. Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Sony predicts 40 percent profit drop in film and TV division

Sony said it expects to log a 40 percent decline in full-year profit at its film and TV studio unit due to the pandemic. That’s marks a revision from the Tokyo-based conglomerate’s warning in May that Sony Pictures Entertainment’s income could dip 30 percent for the year. Source: New York Post

White House Nixes FCC Nominee Who Questioned Bid to Regulate Social Media

The White House withdrew Mike O’Rielly’s nomination for a new term on the Federal Communications Commission because of reservations he expressed about President Trump’s initiative to regulate how social-media platforms treat user-generated content, said people familiar with the matter. Source: Wall Street Journal

Hollywood Is "Increasingly Normalizing" Self-Censorship for China, Report Finds

For years, studios have tailored movies to gain access to the country, the world's second-largest box office market. But now the U.S. government and a human rights nonprofit's new report are criticizing the state of affairs. Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Is TikTok a Good Buy? It Depends on What’s Included

There are a million questions still swirling around a possible TikTok-Microsoft deal. But the most glaring question mark is that nobody I’ve talked to has figured out exactly what “buying TikTok” will mean, or whether what many experts consider TikTok’s golden goose — the complex algorithms that make the app so addictive — would be included in a deal. Source: The New York Times

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