Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Judge approves AT&T's merger with Time Warner | AT&T

Govt argues that AT&T-Time Warner deal would hurt consumers Federal Judge to Decide if AT&T Can Buy Time Warner The Associated Press 11 Jun 2018
Preston Stone | 13 June, 2018, 02:02

"This decision from Judge Leon will have broad ramifications for the tech, telecommunications and media sector for decades to come", Daniel Ives, the chief strategy officer at GBH Insights, told Business Insider in an email before the decision was handed down.

To see how this could happen, consider that, after the merger, AT&T would have the rights to all of HBO's output, CNN, live National Basketball Association and NCAA broadcasts, and many more desirable Time Warner properties.

The Department of Justice could decide to appeal the verdict.

Judge Leon has said he will issue his decision on AT&T's proposed deal today.

Leon said the government's theory that the merger would give the combined company too much leverage in programming negotiations was "plagued by inconsistencies" and contradicted by the Justice Department's own evidence.

In making its case, the USA government argued that the merger of AT&T could harm consumers in a number of ways.

"We want people engaged with their mobile devices all day watching movies and video", Stephenson said in April during the trial. It could have an impact on future mergers and acquisitions between content providers and creators.

The ruling is a stinging defeat for the Justice Department. "For AT&T and Time Warner, this is a major victory lap". The company will now work to complete the merger by June 20th.

In Brexit showdown, British PM May faces challenge over 'meaningful vote'
The Government is against the plan, believing it sends the wrong message to Brussels regarding the UK's negotiating goals. There are two amendments that could prove particularly tough for the government to overturn.

A vertical merger is when two companies who provide different or complementary offerings join forces, giving consumers access to a more comprehensive set of services, at a lower price, while still generating profits. Comcast, which had earlier bid for the Fox assets but lost out to Disney, is expected to renew its pursuit now that AT&T has won. Announced in October 2016, it was seized on by then presidential candidate Donald Trump as the sort pf deal his administration would block.

It is worth remembering that the Justice Department is reviewing the T-Mobile/Sprint combination, and the Justice Department did not approve AT&T's purchase of Time Warner. CNBC is reporting that Comcast will try to buy Twenty-First Century Fox if AT&T buys Time Warner. Comcast and Verizon are also jockeying for position in the new landscape.

"The government may very well argue that that will increase prices by diminishing choices for consumers", he said.

AT&T, for its part, insists that legacy media companies can't compete with the rising titans of Amazon and Netflix unless they're allowed to bring content creation and distribution under the same roof.

The judge rejected the government's argument that the merger would hurt competition in pay TV and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars more to stream TV and movies. Looming in the background of the deal has been Trump's long-running feud with Time Warner's CNN, which he has often derided as "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news".

The mega-merger is a high-stakes bet by AT&T Inc. on the synergy between companies that produce news and entertainment and those that funnel it to consumers - who spend more time watching video on phones and tablets and less time on traditional live TV on a big screen.

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.

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