Franken wants probe of Apple’s streaming services

Sen. Al Franken speaking at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014. Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Minnesota DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken wants two federal agencies to investigate whether Apple’s new music streaming service is violating anti-trust laws.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez, Franken warned that Apple’s new music service may be harming consumers by limiting competition and driving up prices.

“Increased competition in the music streaming market should mean that consumers will ultimately benefit through more choices of better products and at lower prices,” Franken wrote. “I am concerned, however, that Apple’s position as a dominant platform operator may actually undermine many of the potential consumer benefits of its entry into the market.”

Apple launched its streaming service last month to compete with Pandora and Spotify. But consumer rights groups, including Consumer Watchdog, have have complained that Apple’s size and influence gives it an unfair advantage over rival music services, especially when it comes to reaching deals with musicians.

In his letter, Franken also warned that Apple is taking a 30 percent fee on revenues from in-app purchases on Apple mobile devices or tablets. He said that could put some of Apple’s competitors at a financial disadvantage.

Bloomberg reported in May that the Federal Trade Commission has already been investigating whether Apple’s streaming service would violate antitrust laws.

Here’s Franken’s letter: