US Judge clears AT&T/Time Warner merger without conditions 13 June 18 Elena Scaramuzzi

Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia decided on 12 June 2018 that the acquisition of media conglomerate Time Warner by telecoms operator AT&T can go forward without any conditions or remedies, since he did not see any violation of antitrust law in the case.

This concludes six weeks of litigation and a 20-month transaction for AT&T, which was confronted in late 2017 with an antitrust lawsuit from the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ argued that the merger, if allowed to happen, would result in an anticompetitive scenario and harm consumers.

According to the decision, the US government failed to prove that the merged entity would:

  • result in a substantial lessening of competition by improving the bargaining position of Time Warner negotiations with third-party distributors;
  • harm online content distributors through its ownership of Time Warner content; or
  • have any incentive to prevent rivals access to HBO as a distribution channel, as there is no evidence that substitutes for HBO are “inferior, inadequate or more costly”.

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