When AT&T and Time Warner announced a planned $80 billion merger last October, folks realized it would cause some shows to vanish from Netflix, which isn’t fun, but oh well. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has made no secret of showing that they don’t want this deal to happen. And the reason for this appears to be President Trump’s sometimes violently expressed and well-documented beef with CNN, which is one major asset that Time Warner brings to the table. The DOJ has pressured Time Warner to sell Trump’s least favorite cable news network in order to get the merger approved, and now they’re reportedly ready to go further in court.
Bloomberg reports that the DOJ is going to sue AT&T in order to prevent the deal through antitrust law, which means that Jeff Sessions is ready to argue that such a massive empire would discourage or altogether prevent other competition within the industry. And this news arrives via sources that claim knowledge of a week of discussions and an imminent announcement of some sort from the DOJ. In other words, the DOJ might be pulling a shady move in order to discourage critical reporting about the president.
CNN Money adds that AT&T expected to see friction from the DOJ, but not to this degree. AT&T General Counsel David R. McAtee II delivered a statement:
“Today’s DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent. Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently … Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter. Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law. We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent.”
Indeed, the Justice Department’s recent maneuverings in this matter lead one to believe that the president may be pushing for results, which in this case would be Time Warner hanging CNN out to dry. Yet it looks as if AT&T’s legal department is ready to fight this tactic with all available resources. Of course, the mere subject of antitrust law causes most people’s eyes to glaze over, but this fight is about to become a spectator sport. Stay … tuned.