Press Release

Open Markets Statement on AT&T/Time Warner Decision

In response to Judge Richard Leon’s decision in the AT&T/Time Warner case today, the Open Markets Institute has released the following statement:

Earlier today, Judge Richard Leon permitted the mega-merger between AT&T and Time Warner to proceed. The decision is a big loss for the public. The vertical integration between a distributor – AT&T – and a creator of entertainment – Time Warner –  paves the way for an even more concentrated and closed telecommunications industry. With Time Warner’s must-have content—including March Madness and HBO—AT&T will be able to hobble rival content distributors and dictate the terms on which competitors can participate in the market. Furthermore, the merger creates an effective duopoly in distribution in AT&T and Comcast (the other vertically integrated programmer-distributor). AT&T will be able to use Time Warner programming as a weapon to defend its business model, stifle existing and emerging competitive threats, and steer the trajectory of the industry.

“The DOJ should appeal the decision and ask the D.C. Circuit to overturn Judge Leon’s misguided opinion,” said Lina Khan, Director of Legal Policy with Open Markets. “An appeal is critical not only for maintaining the existing level of competition in video distribution, but also for ensuring that antitrust remains a strong tool against anticompetitive vertical mergers.”

“Despite today’s defeat, the Department of Justice deserves credit for pursuing this case and should continue to challenge anticompetitive vertical mergers,” said Sandeep Vaheesan, policy counsel with the Open Markets Institute. “In recent years, government had responded to anticompetitive vertical deals by accepting complicated behavioral remedies. Breaking with recent practice, the DOJ recognized that the only way to preserve competition in the market for video programming and distribution was to block this deal.”

If you would like to reach out to a member of the Open Markets team to comment on this decision, please email [email protected]