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AT&T’s Time Warner Takeover Wins Judge’s Approval in Defeat for Justice Dept.

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wakjak    18,098
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A federal judge on Tuesday approved the blockbuster merger between AT&T and Time Warner, rebuffing the government’s effort to block the $85.4 billion deal, in a decision that is expected to unleash a wave of takeovers in corporate America.

The judge, Richard J. Leon of United States District Court in Washington, said the Justice Department had not proved that the telecom company’s acquisition of Time Warner would lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices for television and internet services.
 

The merger would create a media and telecommunications powerhouse, reshaping the landscape of those industries. The combined company would have a library that includes HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones” and channels like CNN, along with vast distribution reach through wireless and satellite television services across the country.

Media executives increasingly say content creation and distribution must be married to survive against technology companies like Amazon and Netflix. Those companies started making their own programming in just the last several years, but they now spend billions of dollars a year on it, and users can stream their video on apps in homes and on mobile devices, pulling attention from traditional media businesses.

Executives and investors had watched the six-week trial closely, looking for signs about how it might alter their ambitions. Comcast, for example, would like to outbid the Walt Disney Company for some of 21st Century Fox’s assets, but has held off until the trial ended.

David McAtee, AT&T’s general counsel, said the company was “pleased” with the opinion and looked forward to giving “consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile and innovative.”

 

The ruling is a major setback for the Justice Department and its antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, whose decision to sue to block the deal broke with convention. Deals such as this one, in which the two companies are in related industries but do not produce competing products, are usually approved by federal regulators.

Mr. Delrahim had insisted that the two companies sell some major parts before getting government approval, a demand that the executives rejected. That led to the Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed in November.

Mr. Delrahim appeared somber after the decision. He said he was “disappointed” and would review the 170-page opinion before deciding whether the government would ask a higher court to issue a stay of the ruling.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/business/dealbook/att-time-warner-ruling-antitrust-case.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

And only 1 day after Net Neutrality died.

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DocM    16,543

The DoJ should appeal this.

 

That said, these consolidated ISP + content companies will find it much tougher to maintain their high data  prices for middling bandwidth (whose profit margins drive content acquisition & production) once SpaceX's StarLink  and the OneWeb internet satellite constellations are operational. Test satellites are already up or heading to the pad, deployments begin next year. 

 

Low cost gigabit (even to rural), end-to-end encryption, low latencies (25-30 milliseconds), in-space optical backhaul, etc. Perfect for setting up Micro-ISPs.

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