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.
Today, Walt Disney Co. announced a deal to acquire significant programming assets from 21st Century Fox Inc. The deal would unite two substantial content companies and mark the second media mega-merger to face antitrust scrutiny next year. Public Knowledge contends that this merger may pose harms to competition and consumers by further consolidating must-have programming assets and major motion picture studios, and ultimately leading to consumers paying higher prices for video content.
Today, Public Knowledge joined conservative groups -- including the Tea Party Patriots and Frontiers of Freedom -- in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that the Department of Justice block or condition the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger.
Reports now indicate that the Department of Justice has ended its lengthy process to amend the consent decrees governing music publishing in the United States by declining to make adjustments. If true, this would prevent music publishers from withdrawing digital public performance rights from the blanket licenses offered by the two largest performance rights organizations in the United States, ASCAP and BMI. Due to the threat to competition posed by such large concentrations in licensing authority, ASCAP and BMI operate under antitrust consent decrees that govern their licensing practices.