Jus­tice De­part­ment ap­peal­ing OK of AT&T-Time Warner merger

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION - By Marcy Gor­don

WASH­ING­TON — Stung by a fed­eral judge’s dis­missal of its ob­jec­tions to AT&T’s megamerger with Time Warner, the Trump Jus­tice De­part­ment is chal­leng­ing the de­ci­sion with a le­gal ap­peal.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment said in a one-sen­tence doc­u­ment Thurs­day it is ap­peal­ing the rul­ing last month by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, which blessed one of the big­gest me­dia deals ever fol­low­ing a land­mark an­titrust trial.

Leon re­jected the govern­ment’s ar­gu­ment that the phone and pay-TV giant’s $81 bil­lion takeover of the en­ter­tain­ment con­glom­er­ate would hurt com­pe­ti­tion, limit choices and jack up prices for con­sumers to stream TV and movies.

Leon’s rul­ing al­lowed Dal­las­based AT&T Inc. to ab­sorb the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie stu­dio, Game

of Thrones, coveted sports pro­gram­ming and other “must-see” shows.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment’s ap­peal is lodged with the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the District of Columbia Cir­cuit, a step up from the fed­eral district court where the six-week trial un­folded in the spring.

The merger was swiftly con­sum­mated, just two days af­ter Leon’s June 12 rul­ing and al­most as soon as the Jus­tice De­part­ment sig­naled it wouldn’t seek to tem­po­rar­ily block the merger while it pon­dered an ap­peal. The dead­line for clos­ing the merger was June 21.

Some le­gal ex­perts be­lieve the govern­ment could have a hard time con­vinc­ing the ap­peals court to over­turn Leon’s rul­ing. Op­pos­ing the merger forced the fed­eral an­titrust reg­u­la­tors to ar­gue against stand­ing le­gal doc­trine that fa­vors merg­ers among com­pete com­pa­nies di­rectly with that each don’t other. That type of com­bi­na­tion is called a ver­ti­cal merger. It was the first time in decades the govern­ment had chal­lenged that doc­trine by su­ing to block a ver­ti­cal merger. Leon “tried his best to make it ap­peal-proof,” said Fiona Scha­ef­fer, an an­titrust at­tor­ney at Mil­bank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Still, the Jus­tice De­part­ment ap­par­ently be­lieves it has an ad­e­quate le­gal ba­sis to show an er­ror in Leon’s rul­ing, Scha­ef­fer said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.