February 18, 2011 / 2:36 AM / 9 years ago

Antitrust regulators look at new Apple service: report

The Apple Inc. logo is seen through raindrops on a window outside of the New York City flagship Apple store, January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. antitrust regulators are looking at Apple Inc’s new subscription service for media companies to sell content on its devices, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The interest in the subscription service by the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission is preliminary, and might not lead to a formal investigation or charges, the Journal said.

Apple launched the long-awaited subscription service for magazines, newspapers, videos and music earlier this week. The service allows it to keep 30 percent of customer payments to any publisher with a presence in its App Store, including blue-chip brands such as The New York Times, Netflix Inc or Rhapsody, the popular music service.

According to the report, both the Justice Department and the FTC are interested in whether Apple is breaking U.S. antitrust laws by taking the cut after sending media companies’ customers into the payment system for its iTunes store. They have not yet decided which agency will take the lead in the matter, the Journal said.

An Apple spokeswoman declined comment on the report. Representatives for the Justice Department and the FTC could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Gary Hill

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