AT&T-Time Warner Ruling Reactions: Hollywood Scribes, Senator Among Critical Voices

13 Juin, 2018, 13:13 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • AT&T-Time Warner Ruling Reactions: Hollywood Scribes, Senator Among Critical Voices

Time Warner and AT&T avoided invoking the president's statements before and during the trial, and the judge barred them from obtaining White House communications to introduce in the trial, stating in March that the companies had "fallen far short of establishing that this enforcement action was selective".

Among them is T-Mobile US, which is waiting for a government decision on their proposed merger with Sprint Corp.

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.

The deal cost AT&T's top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, his job in May after it became public that AT&T had paid Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000 for advice on winning approval.

A US court ruled that AT&T's deal for media giant Time Warner could go ahead over the objections of the US Department of Justice, which anxious that the combination would raise prices for consumers.

Leon said the government failed to prove that the merger would lead to higher prices and other ham to consumers.

Judge Richard Leon scheduled a hearing for 4:00 pm (1900 GMT) to announce his decision, which may come around the same time as a written opinion following a seven-week bench trial.

In a scathing opinion, Leon concluded that the government had failed to show competitive harm and urged the US government not to seek a stay of his ruling pending a potential appeal, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed. The judge's decision, which is allowing AT&T to merge with Time Warner without conditions, shows the federal government may struggle to rein in such mergers.

Halford, from OC&C added, "All I know is that this will be a blockbuster summer for media mergers!"

The tie-up would Wednesday largest USA pay-TV operator and the second-largest wireless phone carrier with Time Warner, owner of premium channel HBO, the Warner Bros studios, Cartoon Network and CNN.

"This decision could make it extremely hard for the antitrust agencies to fulfill their congressionally mandated duty to promote competition and prevent mergers that may substantially lessen competition", Mr. Nadler said. AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AT&T-Time Warner Ruling Reactions: Hollywood Scribes, Senator Among Critical Voices

AT&T applauded the court's decision and said it expected to close the merger before the June 21 contractual deadline.

"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.

"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", he said in a statement.

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 Justice Department could appeal the ruling.

The AT&T lawsuit is the first time in decades that a government challenge of a "vertical merger" - involving two companies that do not directly compete - has gone to court.

Their concerns only grew heightened after Monday, with the official end of federal net neutrality rules that required broadband providers, including AT&T, to treat all web traffic equally - and not prioritize their TV, movie or other content offerings over competitors.

Sprint tried to acquire T-Mobile in 2014, but dropped its bid after regulatory pushback.

It also appointed a new chief executive officer earlier this month, Hans Vestberg, the company's chief technology officer, in a move that signaled Verizon would likely double down on its existing telecommunications business.

Time Warner's stock rose almost 5 percent in after-market trading. AT&T and Time Warner say that by coming together they can create synergies of data and information that will help them make better content and sell more targeted ads, which they claim could ultimately help lower prices for consumers.

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.

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