We all know about the complaints magazine publishers have been making about Apple’s high-handedness concerning magazine subscriptions. But now Apple is coming in for anti-trust attention in Europe as a result. PaidContent reports that Belgium’s economy minister Vincent van Quickborne has asked Belgium’s Competition Authority to look into “whether Apple is guilty of abuse of power” after Dutch and Belgian publishers complained.

They include Belgian publisher Roularta and Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblat, which says it received a letter from Apple telling it it must separate billing for its subscription iPad edition from its other subscription formats, like print and web, according to the Netherlands’ own De Tijd paper. Other publishers’ tongues are wagging, like in this Quora discussion.

This would not be the first antitrust complaint raised over Apple’s iOS practices. In September 2010, the European Commission dropped two antitrust inquiries it was carrying on into Apple over some of its development policies (in particular, the forbidding of third-party development environments such as Flash) and warranty repairs after Apple reversed the policies in question.

It’s not entirely clear whether an antitrust investigation into Apple for its magazine policies would be successful, however, since Apple is not stopping the publishers from publishing for other tablet platforms altogether. Success doesn’t necessarily equal monopoly, at least in the eyes of the law.


  1. Perhaps the EU competition watchdog could take a look at the magazine and newspaper distribution monopoly in the UK. Shops which sell papers and mags at less than cover price can have their supplies cut off by the wholesalers. This iniquitous price-fixing cartel has been getting away with it for years and nobody does anything about it.

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