On Monday, the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit to prevent AT&T from acquiring Time Warner. This is a stunning development. The DOJ’s antitrust division seeks to prevent AT&T from becoming a ‘Goliath’ in the media and telecommunications industry.
“This merger would greatly harm American consumers,” said Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. In addition, “It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy,” reported by Bloomberg.
On the contrary, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson sharply criticized the DOJ’s decision. “I’ve done a lot of deals in my career, but I’ve never done one where we have disagreed with the Department of Justice so much on even the most basic of facts.” He added, “The rule of law is at issue here.”
The lawsuit filed may prevent the $85 billion deal from moving forward. Speculations are heating up. AT&T will dig to find out whether the White House influenced the Justice Department’s lawsuit. President Trump is a critic of Time Warner’s CNN, often tweeting that the network is “fake news.”
“I do feel that you should have as many news outlets as you can, especially since so many of them are fake,” Trump stated. “This way, at least you can get your word out. But I do believe you should have as many news outlets as you can.”
According to CNN, AT&T may cite President Trump’s tweets as circumstantial evidence, if they go to trial. However, the DOJ would prefer to settle the lawsuit without any further actions.
Antitrust Litigation Defined.
The antitrust laws of the United States are designed to protect competition, consumer welfare, and the economy as a whole from unfair and anti-competitive trade practices. These include price-fixing, market allocation between competitors, and bid-rigging.
AT&T plans to defend the deal in court, arguing that the two companies don’t directly compete against each other and that the government hasn’t challenged a similar kind of merger in decades.