AT&T antitrust trial begins in the US


The trial between AT&T and the federal government begins on Monday, March 19, and will decide if AT&T’s USD 85 billion acquisition of Time Warner is legal under US antitrust law. Judge Richard Leon, who will oversee the case, said that the process could last from six to eight weeks.
The US Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner in November last year. According to the DOJ, the deal will lead to less competition and would increase TV bills USD 436 million a year.
In turn, AT&T said it needs to gobble up Time Warner if it’s to have a chance against the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Google in the rapidly evolving world of video, The Washington Post Reported. In addition, the company denied that that the merger will limit choice and lead to higher prices for consumers. “Blocking the transaction would deny consumers these benefits and shield large, vertically integrated firms such as Comcast/NBCU, Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Facebook from new competition on their own turf,” the company said in a pre-trial brief.
AT&T announced the acquisition of Time Warner for USD 85.4 billion in October 2016. The transaction has already been approved in Latin America by regulatory bodies in countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico. In the region, the North American telecommunications company owns DirecTV Latin America and it offers mobile telephony in Mexico. Time Warner owns the HBO, TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network networks, among others.