US: AT&T responds to Justice Department lawsuit

AT&T has officially fired back at the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) lawsuit to block the US$85 billion Time Warner merger and has begun pushing for a trial start date in February 2018.

In AT&T’s lengthy response to the DOJ’s complaint, the company said that the Time Warner deal will be a “pro-competitive, pro-consumer response to an intensely competitive and rapidly changing video marketplace.”

That remark was made in response to claims from the DOJ that AT&T will use its control of Time Warner’s programming to jack up prices for its rival pay TV providers.

“Simply put, no competitor will be eliminated by this merger,” the company said in the filing. Because AT&T claims it is not seeking to buy a company with which it directly competes, the company said, the government “cannot meet its burden of proof” for an antitrust argument.” and/or ““In seeking to block this merger, then, the Government is not only departing from established antitrust precedent, but is also shielding rivals from new competition that would greatly benefit consumers.”

As a remedy to that potential problem, AT&T has offered to submit to baseball-style arbitration with distributors if the deal is approved. That means that, for at least seven years, distributors of Time Warner content including TBS, TNT, CNN and HBO could enter arbitration if the parties can’t agree on terms for wholesale rates. In that event, Turner channels would remain on the distributor while the process plays out.

Full Content: Washington Post

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