Quantcast

AT&T Antitrust Win May Herald A New Wave Of Media Mergers - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

AT&T Antitrust Win May Herald A New Wave Of Media Mergers

Posted: Updated:
AP AP

WASHINGTON (AP) - Brace yourself for the likely new era of media megamergers.

AT&T's victory over the government's attempt to block its $85 billion takeover of Time Warner underscores just how much the way people watch TV - and pay for it - has changed. It also highlights how corporate America wants to adapt to deal with its new environment. In short: Bigger is better.

The government argued that the merger would stifle competition and lead to higher cable bills. But U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ultimately agreed with AT&T's assertion that it had to grow to survive in the era of Google, Amazon and Netflix.

"It really was a stunning rebuke of the Department of Justice," said media analyst Craig Moffett.  "Judge Leon was wholly unpersuaded by their case."

The ruling could open the floodgates to deal making in the fast-changing worlds of entertainment production and distribution. Major cable, satellite and phone companies are bulking up with purchases of entertainment conglomerates to compete against rivals born on the internet such as Amazon and Google.

Waiting in the wings are potential big-billions deals involving 21st Century Fox and Disney, Verizon and CBS, T-Mobile and Sprint. Comcast and Verizon are also jockeying for position in the new landscape.

A combined AT&T-Time Warner could also get a boost from the official end of net neutrality -the Obama-era rules that barred broadband and wireless companies from favoring their own services to the detriment of rivals like Netflix. As of this past Monday, AT&T and Verizon can prioritize their own movies and TV shows, to the likely disadvantage of rivals such as Amazon, YouTube and future startups.

The judge's decision frees the wireless and pay-TV giant to absorb the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, "Game of Thrones," coveted sports programming and other "must-see" shows.

The result for consumers? More options, especially if they're AT&T customers already, said GBH Insights analyst Dan Ives. He said consumers can expect to more things to watch and more streaming options, like bundled packages with HBO, CNN or sports.

"It's a major shot across the bow at other wireless and cable providers," Ives said. But he acknowledged that consumers might eventually end up paying more, too.

Leon said the government failed to prove that the merger would lead to higher prices and other harm to consumers. Despite Justice Department lawyers taking their "best shot," he said, their evidence was "too thin a reed for this court to rely on."

The judge added that he wouldn't temporarily block the merger for a possible appeal by the government. The "drop dead" deadline for completing the merger is June 21. If it's not wrapped up by then, either company could walk away, and AT&T would have to pay a $500 million breakup fee.

The ruling was a stinging defeat for the Justice Department. Opposing the merger forced federal antitrust lawyers to argue against standing legal doctrine that favors mergers among companies that don't compete directly with each other.

Another wild card: When first announced in October 2016, the deal drew fire from then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." Trump has also publicly feuded with Time Warner's CNN, calling it "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news." The president's statements didn't come up during the trial.

John Bergmayer, senior counsel at the consumer group Public Knowledge, said the decision could have long-lasting negative effects thanks to "the many other mergers it will encourage." In a statement, Bergmayer called for "reinvigorated regulatory oversight of the video marketplace."

Dallas-based AT&T is a wireless, broadband and satellite behemoth that became the country's biggest pay-TV provider with its 2014 purchase of DirecTV. It claims about 25 million of the 90 million or so U.S. households that are pay-TV customers.

AT&T general counsel David McAtee said the company plans to close the deal on or before June 20.

WEATHER
MaxTrack Doppler
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man Finds Rattlesnake Under Hood While Trying To Start Car

    Man Finds Rattlesnake Under Hood While Trying To Start Car

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:01 PM EDT2018-06-24 00:01:55 GMT
    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation via APNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation via AP
    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation via APNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation via AP
    HANCOCK, N.Y. (AP) - An upstate New York man trying to jump-start his car was greeted by an unusual sound coming from his engine - the rattle of a venomous timber rattlesnake.      The man says the snake slithered across the engine block and curled up on the battery as he opened the hood of the car earlier this month in rural Hancock, on the Pennsylvania border about 115 miles northwest of New York City. State environmental conservation police officers were called out t...
    HANCOCK, N.Y. (AP) - An upstate New York man trying to jump-start his car was greeted by an unusual sound coming from his engine - the rattle of a venomous timber rattlesnake.      The man says the snake slithered across the engine block and curled up on the battery as he opened the hood of the car earlier this month in rural Hancock, on the Pennsylvania border about 115 miles northwest of New York City. State environmental conservation police officers were called out t...
  • Deputies: Woman Leads Officers On Chase From Tennessee To Kentucky

    Deputies: Woman Leads Officers On Chase From Tennessee To Kentucky

    Sunday, June 24 2018 6:42 AM EDT2018-06-24 10:42:56 GMT

    LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A woman led officers on a chase from Tennessee to Kentucky before she was caught in Laurel County, according to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office. Authorities say 35-year-old Abbie Kent of Lowden, Tennessee, was driving a stolen sport-utility vehicle when Tennessee Highway Patrol attempted to pull her over.

    LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A woman led officers on a chase from Tennessee to Kentucky before she was caught in Laurel County, according to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office. Authorities say 35-year-old Abbie Kent of Lowden, Tennessee, was driving a stolen sport-utility vehicle when Tennessee Highway Patrol attempted to pull her over.

  • Teenager Uses Sign Language To Communicate With Blind And Deaf Man During Flight

    Teenager Uses Sign Language To Communicate With Blind And Deaf Man During Flight

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:14 PM EDT2018-06-24 00:14:16 GMT
    PORTLAND, Or. (CNN) - A 15-year-old is being widely praised for an act of kindness during a cross-country flight. Clara Daly was traveling with her mother Jane from Boston to Los Angeles on an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this week. During the six-hour flight that included a layover in Portland, Oregon, Clara volunteered her skills in sign language to help a blind and deaf man by forming letters with her fingers while he "read" them with his hands. Clara told CNN a fligh...
    PORTLAND, Or. (CNN) - A 15-year-old is being widely praised for an act of kindness during a cross-country flight. Clara Daly was traveling with her mother Jane from Boston to Los Angeles on an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this week. During the six-hour flight that included a layover in Portland, Oregon, Clara volunteered her skills in sign language to help a blind and deaf man by forming letters with her fingers while he "read" them with his hands. Clara told CNN a fligh...
Powered by Frankly

© LEX18.com 2018, LEX18.com
A CORDILLERA COMMUNICATIONS Station
All rights reserved
Privacy Policy, | Terms of Service, and Ad Choices

Can't find something?