AT&T-Time Warner Judge Fires Starting Gun in the Battle Against Tech

13 June, 2018, 23:07 | Author: Dominic Spencer
  • AT&T, Time Warner Merger Approved by Judge

With or without Time Warner, AT&T is very focused on its media business.

In its suit against AT&T, the Department of Justice alleges the merger would "greatly harm American consumers" through "higher monthly bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy", Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said when announcing the suit previous year. For more, RT America's Manila Chan is joined by former Florida Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar and GOP Strategist Ken Del Vecchio. Before Leon's verdict, AT&T's stock price was down more than 10 percent on the year, as DirectTV was bleeding subscribers. Disney's Iger has also said Fox is key to its plans for Hulu, which it would gain control of if it acquired Fox. For consumers, that may mean higher prices for services they buy from AT&T and Time Warner now, all in the name of competition.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the Justice Department was "disappointed" by the decision, but did not say if it planned to appeal.

"AT&T/DirecTV would hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for Time Warner's networks, and it would use its increased power to slow the industry's transition to new and exciting video distribution models that provide greater choice for consumers", the DOJ said in its complaint.

AT&T would use its leverage over the must-have shows, in particular HBO's Game of Thrones or National Basketball Association games on TNT, to charge Comcast or Verizon more than it would charge itself for distributing Time Warner channels, giving itself a competitive advantage, the government claimed.

Consummation of the deal could also trigger other mega-mergers in the US TV and telco markets.


"We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner".

A Comcast-Fox deal would be another vertical merger, like the AT&T-Time Warner deal. The ruling comes one day after the repeal of net neutrality, meaning that AT&T now has more freedom to prioritize the delivery of select content on its network.

"Compare today to the 50s or 60s when we had three television stations and you had one AT&T that was, then, protected by government monopoly", Crews said.

AT&T had initially sought to argue that the government's opposition was fuelled by political objections from US President Donald Trump, who criticised the takeover during the 2016 election campaign.

While the Disney and Fox deal has been underway since December 2017, when it was officially announced by both parties, it's far from complete. Trump weighed in again after the justice department filed its suit: "Personally, I've always felt that that was a deal that's not good for the country".

"We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner", he said in the statement.

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