"The Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging antitrust investigation into whether cable companies are acting improperly to quash nascent competition from online video, according to people familiar with the matter.
"Justice Department officials have spoken to several online video providers, including Netflix Inc. and Hulu LLC, those people said. Investigators have also questioned Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and other cable companies about issues such as setting data caps, limits to the amount of data a subscriber can download each month, these people said.
"Representatives of all those companies and the Justice Department declined to comment on the investigation.
"Cable companies provide both television channels and high-speed Internet access for many consumers in the U.S. With broadband Internet, consumers can watch individual programs or channels through online video services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, bypassing the cable company's traditional bundles of channels.
"Having invested billions of dollars building their networks, some pay-TV companies have shown little inclination to get out of the business of packaging television channels and become mere conduits for other companies' data. Some major entertainment companies also have an interest in preserving the current model of television viewing because they want cable companies to take bundles of their channels, rather than just cherry-picking the most popular ones."
THOMAS CATAN And AMY SCHATZ, The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2012