If allowed by the Justice Department to proceed with its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T said it would submit to baseball-style arbitration to settle complaints that it is gouging other MVPDs on rates for Turner programming. The offer was made in filings in the DOJ’s suit to block the deal altogether.
Satellite Business News Editor Bob Scherman: If it wants to protect American consumers and the public interest, the Justice Department must block AT&T’s attempt to swallow up Time Warner. No conditions would make the transaction beneficial to American consumers.
Wall Street thinks so. It knocked down Time Warner shares 4% yesterday on multiple reports that antitrust regulators were preparing to challenge the merger is court — a move that could lead to blocking the deal or loading up the merged company with conditions aimed at preventing anticompetitive conduct.
Concerned that the White House may meddle in the anti-trust review AT&T’s proposed $85 billion takeover of Time Warner, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked the Justice Department last Friday whether it had been contacted about the merger by any White House employee or adviser to the president.
After eight months of scrutiny by the Justice Department’s anti-trust regulators, the fate of the merger is still unclear. Among the reasons: Trump’s nominee to run the DOJ’s anti-trust division is still awaiting Senate confirmation and concerns that White House may weigh in given Trump’s antipathy toward CNN, one of Time Warner’s prized possessions.
AT&T and Time Warner have offered a response to a group of Democratic senators concerned about the companies’ proposed $85 billion merger. In particular, the companies said that the merger will help lift some of the bargaining friction between content providers and distributors and allow for faster innovation.
Time Warner shareholders cast a resounding vote on Wednesday in support of the company’s proposed $85.4 billion merger with AT&T, setting the stage for the federal government’s review of the deal.