Judge approves AT&T-Time Warner merger

13 June, 2018, 10:26 | Author: Gerard Cortez
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AT&T won approval from a United States court on Tuesday to buy Time Warner for $85 billion, without conditions, allowing AT&T to compete with Internet companies that dominate digital advertising and providing new sources of revenue.

Announcing an offer on Wednesday, rather than Tuesday afternoon, will allow Comcast's lawyers to look through the details of Judge Leon's decision, the people said.

Judge Leon's decision is sure to open the doors to more mergers involving media companies as content continues to drive the ISP and the wireless industries.

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. Without #NetNeutrality protections @ATT can now discriminate against sites & content competing with networks it will soon acquire like HBO & CNN.

Leon announced his decision after the stock market closed on Tuesday, and Comcast shares slumped 4 percent in after-market trading on fears that it would overpay for Fox.

Months before Trump nominated him to the Justice Department's leading antitrust position in 2017, Delrahim even had expressed an openness to the combination of AT&T and Time Warner, predicting in an interview on Canadian television that it might not trigger any regulatory concerns.

The ruling comes with other big mergers awaiting review.

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But why were those military exercises taking place at all, and how did almost 29,000 USA troops end up in South Korea? It was shocking, he said , because these exercises are fundamental to our military relationship with South Korea.

Leon's ruling could shape the government's future competition policy.

The Justice Department is not likely to be put off by the loss, said Amy Ray of the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, noting it had prevailed in stopping other mergers between rivals.

The ruling could also prompt a cascade of pay TV companies buying television and movie makers, with Comcast's bid for some Twenty-First Century Fox assets potentially the first out of the gate. It would also be the 12th largest deal in any sector, the data showed. Major cable, satellite and phone companies are bulking up with purchases of entertainment conglomerates to compete against rivals born on the internet, like Amazon and Google. Stephenson was relieved. So was outgoing Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, who also learned the news from a phone call. "I believe this is going to lead to higher prices", said Gigi Sohn, a former top aide to the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama.

The six-week trial featured a parade of expert witnesses as attorneys for the opposing sides took Leon on a journey through the twisty dynamics of the media and entertainment landscape.

AT&T and Time Warner together are some of the largest buyers of advertising around the globe, spending billions of dollars to market their products. Post-merger, AT&T rivals like Charter Communications and Cox, which now pay Time Warner for its channels, would suddenly also become AT&T's customers.

The companies' main economist, Dennis Carlton from the University of Chicago, refuted Shapiro's model as overly complicated and rejected his conclusions. The government failed to prove that the merger would dampen competition and innovation and raise prices for pay TV, said Daniel Petrocelli, the companies' lead attorney in defending the merger.

AT&T said that controlling Time Warner's cable brands will help it craft new types of content to retain its customers as web-based rivals like Netflix Inc woo audiences away from traditional pay-TV subscriptions. The combination would push technology forward and give consumers more choices, AT&T has promised.

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