High-stakes ruling awaited on AT&T-Time Warner merger

High-stakes ruling awaited on AT&T-Time Warner merger

The Justice Department had sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, citing anti-competitive reasons and violation of antitrust laws.

The case - one of the most closely watched antitrust trials in decades - is viewed as a bellwether for other deals waiting in the wings.

AT&T has said it needs to buy Time Warner to compete with the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Google in the shape-shifting streaming-TV environment.

Shares of both T-Mobile and Sprint rose; their proposed combination is pending.

However, in Verizon's most recent quarterly earnings call, executives said they would rather sit out the current consolidation, and instead build out its content offerings through partnerships with independent media companies. Time Warner makes TV shows, while AT&T broadcasts them.

The ruling by Judge Richard Leon bit.ly/2Jxx6qE of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia brings an end to a six-week antitrust trial in which U.S. regulators argued that the $85 billion deal would give AT&T undue leverage against rival cable providers that relied on Time Warner's content. The sheer scale of the deal is what led the Justice Department to file an antitrust lawsuit to try to prevent the merger.

"The government here has taken its best shot to oppose this merger", Leon said, speaking to a packed courtroom in an unusual session weeks after the trial ended.

He took issue with the government's analysis that the merger would result in higher prices for consumers, telling a packed courtroom that the findings "rested on improper notions."‬ And Leon also warned the USA government against seeking a stay on the merger if it brings an appeal for the objective of trying to stymie the deal.

Tuesday's ruling signaled that federal regulators will have a hard time stopping companies from getting bigger by gobbling up rivals and the programming they own.

Halford, from OC&C added, "All I know is that this will be a blockbuster summer for media mergers!" "The decision to approve the AT&T/Time Warner merger further entrenches AT&T as a media gatekeeper that harms the public interest and opens the door for more media consolidation in the future".

UK PM Theresa May backs Trudeau after Trump attacks
Ries says that strong stance could help more Americans realize they don't want a trade war with Canada. Yet the beauty of it was in the last line: " Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!".

Cheeseburger on IHOP's Switch to Burgers
Revamping its burger selection could convince customers to visit later in the day and for more than just hash browns and eggs. While IHOP is taking a ribbing from food-related rivals, it's also attracting attention from other corners of the world.

The Elder Scrolls VI "in Pre-Production", Starfield "Playable" Says Todd Howard
This means that players will not have to tilt their phone sideways to play the game. "Forza Horizon 4" hits on October 2nd. No details, or at least hint on when we should expect to continue, new details or any such company left.

After almost two years, AT&T is on the cusp of completing its acquisition of Time Warner, a deal it struck in a bid to become an entertainment giant that can feed Time Warner programming like HBO and CNN to its 119 million mobile, internet and video customers, and go head-to-head with Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

"This was a defining case for antitrust enforcement in the USA", former Justice Department antitrust attorney Ketan Jhaveri said. AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a blunt statement after the ruling was issued, Time Warner pointed the finger at President Trump, implying that he influenced the DOJ's decision to bring the case.

"If what you see is a pattern where friends of the president get their deals approved and his enemies are challenged, it's problematic", Levin said.

He had the option of rejecting the deal outright or demanding certain conditions, including that AT&T sell some of Time Warner's assets.

Or Leon could reject the merger outright, accepting the government's contention that it would hurt pay-TV consumers and competition in the industry.

The deal is what is known as a vertically integrated merger: a joining of two companies that do not directly compete with each other.

Approval of the combination would be a stinging defeat for the Justice Department, which could move to appeal Leon's ruling. Comcast and Verizon are also jockeying for position in the new landscape. He joined Time Warner in 2010. The companies' CEOs, AT&T's Randall Stephenson and Jeffrey Bewkes of Time Warner Inc., testified in support of the deal.

Company lawyers successfully argued that the merger would allow Time Warner to provide AT&T with innovative video and advertising opportunities, while AT&T would supply Time Warner with customer relationships.

The government estimated costs to industry rivals, such as Charter Communications Inc, would increase by $580 million a year if AT&T owned Time Warner.

Related Articles