FCC Blesses Sprint/T-Mobile Merger; Zuckerberg Defends Political Ads On Facebook

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The Race To 5G 

Sprint and T-Mobile’s $26 billion merger was approved by the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday. The vote came in 3-2 along party lines, with both Democratic commissioners opposing the deal. The companies still face a legal battle from state attorneys but are one step closer to a merger that the duo claims will help it compete with AT&T and Verizon on 5G technology. Not everyone is so excited. “With 5G on the horizon, our dependence on wireless connectivity is bound to grow,” said Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel in a dissenting statement. “It’s not the time to count on ineffective deployment commitments, higher prices, and less vigorous competition to help the benefit of this new technology reach us all.” CNBC has more.

Laissez Facebook

There’s no lack of governments and activists that want to prohibit Facebook’s encryption plans, which they say can be used by criminal networks to avoid detection. In a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg defended encryption, noting that protestors and activists rely on it to communicate and organize, like in Hong Kong. Zuckerberg also didn’t back down on Facebook’s hands-off approach to political ads on its platform, even content many consider to be false or misleading. “Political ads can be an important part of voice, especially for local candidates, up-and-coming challengers and advocacy groups that the media might not otherwise cover,” Zuckerberg declared. Be that as it may, Facebook has been in hot water over allowing President Trump to promote ads with false claims. But there’s a flip side, Zuckerberg said, pointing to China, where fast-growing Chinese social media apps outright censor content, The New York Times reports. More.

All Fun And Games

The mobile gaming industry is still growing at a shocking rate. In the last quarter, the Apple App Store and Google Play Store brought in $9.8 billion and $6.5 billion, respectively, in mobile gaming revenue, each up by well over a billion dollars from the same period last year. For the sake of comparison, the entire US box office earnings from the same quarter were about $2.5 billion. Pokémon Go, which some of the general public may consider a flash hit from way back in 2016, will shatter the billion-dollar mark yet again this year, according to data from Sensor Tower, GameDaily reports. And this despite widespread efforts to get users into ad-free subscription package deals. (Where have we heard that before?) More.

Smooth Operators

The recent wave of digital media mergers, investments and acquisitions has a different feel than previous cash surges in the industry. Back in the day, deals were mostly fueled by traditional media companies and venture capital. This time, you’d be wise to look at these hookups with a more cynical, clear-eyed view. New media buyers are targeting specific audience categories while stripping out duplicative ad tech, sales and backoffice teams, and gunning for diversified ad revenue. PopSugar, which was acquired by Group Nine Media earlier this month, for example, shared none of the same top 10 advertisers as its new parent company, Digiday reports. “Digital media has entered the age of the operator.” More.

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