Last week was a difficult week for antitrust and consumer rights advocates. On Monday, the net neutrality rules (the ones that kept internet service providers from acting as gatekeepers of the internet) officially went off the books. (We are, of course, fighting to bring them back.) The next day, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon issued a ruling permitting the AT&T/Time Warner mega-merger to proceed, in a lawsuit brought on by the Department of Justice. This ruling was more troubling news for consumers, as well as for the future of online competition.
Today, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued its decision in United States v AT&T, with Judge Richard J. Leon ruling that the the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger can go forward.
Today, Consumer Federation of America, in collaboration with Public Knowledge, published a paper explaining why the government’s case against the AT&T-Time Warner merger is both warranted and consistent with past enforcement practices. The paper also demonstrates the necessity of the case to prevent possible coordination among dominant firms that would likely thwart the development and expansion of innovative online video platforms as well as cheaper alternatives to traditional cable and satellite services.
Today, U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Leon denied AT&T's request for certain documents and testimony in its defense against the Department of Justice's charge that its proposed acquisition of Time Warner violates antitrust laws. AT&T has argued that it is subject to "selective enforcement," that is, that the DOJ's motivation in bringing the case is primarily political, and motivated by President Trump's well-known dislike of CNN, a Time Warner property. The DOJ rejects this contention, maintaining that the DOJ's Antitrust Division alone decided to bring this case.