Magazine article Screen International

US Justice Department Sues over AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Magazine article Screen International

US Justice Department Sues over AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Article excerpt

Industry observers watching closely on case that could shape corporate landscape.

The US Justice Department (DOJ) on Monday (November 20) commenced legal action to block the proposed $85.4bn merger between AT&T and Time Warner on anti-trust grounds.

The suit marks a rare step to block a vertical integration, which does not ostensibly bring together two direct competitors, and will be watched closely by Hollywood in light of recent reports that Disney, Sony, Comcast and Verizon have demonstrated an interest in acquiring the assets of 21st Century Fox.

The DOJ has claimed the combination of AT&T’s distribution infrastructure and the vast content stable owned by Time Warner could force competitors to pay over the odds to acquire the same content or networks, and drive up the cost to customers.

“This merger would greatly harm American consumers,” assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim from the department’s anti-trust unit said. “It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.”

The development increased speculation over any possible role US president Donald Trump might have played behind the scenes. …

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