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South Korea Nears Conclusion of 16-Month YouTube Antitrust Investigation

 |  June 23, 2024

South Korea’s antitrust regulator is poised to conclude its extensive 16-month investigation into YouTube next month, focusing on potential rule breaches related to bundling its music streaming service with its ad-free premium subscription program.

During a press conference on Friday, Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Chairman Han Ki-jeong acknowledged industry and consumer concerns regarding YouTube’s bundling practices. “The antitrust agency is well aware that the industry and customers raised concerns over the bundling of YouTube Music with the YouTube Premium subscription,” Han stated.

The KFTC’s investigation aims to determine whether the integration of YouTube’s services has unfairly impeded other music streaming businesses, thus restricting competition within the Korean market. “The KFTC will complete its investigation in July and take strict measures if YouTube is found to have broken laws,” Han added.

The probe began in February last year with an on-site investigation into Google Korea, specifically examining allegations tied to YouTube Music. Despite the prolonged duration of over 16 months, the investigation has yet to reach a conclusion.

Additionally, the KFTC is scrutinizing whether YouTube has exploited its market dominance to secure a larger share of the local music streaming market. Should YouTube be found in violation of South Korean laws, the company could face fines amounting to up to 6 percent of its sales.

In recent years, YouTube Music has been bundled with YouTube Premium subscriptions at no extra cost, a strategy that has significantly boosted YouTube’s subscriber base in South Korea. The outcome of the KFTC’s investigation could have substantial implications for YouTube’s business practices and market dynamics within the region.
Source: Korea Herald