Magazine article Variety

Big Cheer for Sanity toward Media M&A

Magazine article Variety

Big Cheer for Sanity toward Media M&A

Article excerpt

A panel discussion doesn't often elicit applause at the UCLA Law School Entertainment Symposium, but last week's 42nd annual edition of the event managed to do just that from its typically subdued audience. Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin was doing the math on the disparity in size between the largest of the media and tech companies, noting that if the AT&T-Time Warner merger was cleared, it would create a company with a $225 billion market capitalization. That's large by most standards, yet still just half the size of the smallest of the tech giants: Facebook, which even after record declines to its stock price, stood at $463 billion.

She turned to a fellow panelist, Bill Baer, who was there to offer the perspective of government regulators, having previously served as head of a number of different federal antitrust divisions.

"The notion that somehow we're protecting the consumer from I don't know what - the Walt Disney Co. or from Sinclair or Comcast - feels very backward looking to me," she said. "These (tech) companies just get more and more powerful unregulated, and the government ignores them and says, 'If we don't hold the AT&T-Time Warner merger, they might hurt consumer pricing. …

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