By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
In spite of objections from the Trump Administration Justice Department, a federal judge has approved AT&T’s $85.4 Billion acquisition of Time Warner. The new MEGA media company will include AT&T, Warner Brothers, DirecTV, and a minority ten percent stake of Hulu. How will the judicial approval of the mega merger affect the Disney/Fox acquisition? Maybe make things go faster, especially since Comcast is now offering a heck of a lot more.
“If there ever were an antitrust case where the parties had a dramatically different assessment of the current state of the relevant market and a fundamentally different vision of its future development, this is the one.” – Judge Leon’s opinion.
An appointee of the George W. Bush Administration in 2002, Judge Richard J. Leon of United States District Court in Washington, ruled that the Trump Justice Department didn’t provide sufficient evidence that AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner would offer consumers fewer choices and would result in higher prices for television and internet services.
Leon went one step further, to warn the justice department not to seek a stay and appeal his ruling, saying that both Time Warner and AT&T had already endured a prolonged regulatory evaluation period, and any further delays would have severe financial impact on both corporations.
Antitrust experts viewed the decision as a defeat, saying that AT&T now has carte blanche to raise prices on both entertainment and internet services. “(This decision) will give AT&T market power to raise the price of Time Warner content, and, secondly, it will lead to further vertical mergers in this industry that will harm consumers,” said Steven Salop, an economics and law professor at Georgetown University.
The merger is already having a profound impact on the entertainment landscape, as both Disney and Comcast are now financially dueling to take over 21st Century Fox, and there are bound to be several more high end mergers that will tighten both the entertainment and information industries even further. But Judge Leon seemed to address that by saying further in his opinion that shouldn’t necessarily be the case. “The temptation by some to view this decision as being something more than a resolution of this specific case should be resisted by one and all,” Judge Leon declared.
Hat Tip – NY Times