European antitrust regulators said Monday they have extended their review of a deal between Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc. to make anti-piracy software together.
European Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres declined to give a reason for the extension but such a step usually means regulators need extra time to review concessions offered by the companies to address competition concerns.
(MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)
Under the new timetable, the commission must decide by Aug. 25 whether to clear the deal or open a second-phase, in-depth probe, which takes four months.
Time Warner and Microsoft announced plans in April to buy Xerox Corp.’s stake in Contentguard Inc., which makes programs used to protect digital media from illegal copying,
The companies haven’t given the value of the deal but Xerox reported earnings of $83 million from the sale.
Microsoft and Time Warner say they are cooperating with the commission to secure quick clearance.
“We hope that (the deal) will be cleared after this phase of the review,” said Microsoft spokesman Dirk Delmartino, adding that he was unaware of any antitrust review in the United States.
Companies that sell music online including Apple Computer Inc. and RealNetworks Inc. use so-called digital rights management software to protect the music from illegal copying and determine royalties.
Microsoft and Time Warner want to cooperate in winning a share of the expanding digital audio and video markets — and in helping to create rights management standards for the future.