Japan’s FTC to Survey Competitive Environment of Online Video Streaming Services

The Fair Trade Commission has announced it will begin a probe on the competitive environment of online video streaming services.

In Japan, the market share of a small number of streaming service distributors is increasing. The FTC will examine whether there are any conflicts with the Antimonopoly Law in the face of concerns over unfair practices such as the exclusion of competitors by IT giants.

The investigation will cover such firms as U.S. online video streaming service providers Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc, as well as Google LLC and Panasonic Corp., which provide operating systems for “smart televisions,” a new type of TV set equipped with internet connectivity. Amazon also runs a smart TV platform.

It has been pointed out that, compared to terrestrial and other types of TVs that require a license, there may be a few streaming service operators engaging in questionable practices that give them an advantage.

Among specific cases the FTC has taken into account is one where a video streaming service provider with a high market share offers its service at excessively low fees, effectively undercutting other companies in the same industry.

A case where a smartphone operating system provider shows its own programs on smart televisions in a preferential manner will also be studied.

The FTC also plans to investigate the practice of imposing burdens on consumers by changing the terms and conditions of service in an aim to charge high fees.

Based on the results, the FTC will identify potentially problematic practices under the law and take necessary actions.