Judge clears AT&T takeover of Time Warner

AT&T-Time Warner Decision Could Send Waves Across Markets

AT&T, which has invested heavily in a streaming video service called DirecTV Now, is free to bulk up its original programming with Time Warner content.

Bloomberg: The AT&T Ruling Could Change How Mega Deals Are Made - "For years, these so-called vertical deals have typically received light treatment from antitrust enforcers, unlike the horizontal mergers that bring together direct competitors". The merger unites one of the nation's largest telecom providers with a media giant. For more, RT America's Manila Chan is joined by former Florida Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar and GOP Strategist Ken Del Vecchio.

The ruling suggests Judge Leon is adapting to the times.

The biggest impact of this deal will be felt quickly, as Comcast will now formally make an offer to Fox for the majority of its assets. The DOJ moved to block the merger in March, arguing that the merger would reduce competition and hurt consumer choice.

Shares of both companies were rising in early trading Tuesday.

At&T and Time Warner argue they need more scale to compete with online rivals like Netflix and Amazon and with Silicon Valley giants like Google, Facebook and Apple which are expanding in the sector. Of course, that was prior to the court's ruling on the AT&T and Time Warner merger today.

A vertical merger is when two companies who provide different or complementary offerings join forces, giving consumers access to a more comprehensive set of services, at a lower price, while still generating profits.

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In his notes for explaining the deal rationale to his board, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson wrote, as Leon quotes on page 89 of his decision: "How can you advantage your own distribution (TV, BB, wireless) without harming TW position as a wide distributor of content to other SVOD, cable networks, and broadcast networks". But now the government seems to have grown concerned about the massive reach of new telecommunications and tech companies that warehouse personal information on users and sell targeted advertisements, Mehra said.

Announced in October 2016, it was seized on by then presidential candidate Donald Trump as the sort pf deal his administration would block.

"Consumers may not notice the difference if this one deal goes through because they are already getting crushed in the marketplace", added Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School and author of Captive Audience on the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger.

AT&T's bond deal could come sooner rather than later, as the company will want to get ahead of a growing M&A bond pipeline that includes Comcast, Shoup said.

"We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner", he said in the statement.

In any case, the judge's decision - which could block, allow or approve the merger with restrictions - is unlikely to be the final word.

Updated 2:18 pm PT: This story was updated with comments from AT&T and the Justice Department.

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