WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed federal anti-trust suit to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, in a case legal experts feel AT&T is almost certain to win, while ignoring a $600 million CIA contract to Amazon to build an intelligence agency cloud-based computing region that highlights Amazon’s rapacious growth that so far has avoided antitrust scrutiny.
In a press conference held late yesterday, AT&T executives boasted their confidence in winning the case by making clear that AT&T is ready to go to trial contesting the DOJ lawsuit as soon as possible.
“Our merger combines Time Warner’s content and talent with AT&T’s TV, wireless and broadband distribution platforms,” The result will help make television more affordable, innovative, interactive and mobile.”
“Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter,” AT&T said in a press release yesterday. “Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law. We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent.”
CNN is the real issue
Infowars.com has reported sources close to the AT&T acquisition on both Wall Street and Washington confirmed to Infowars.com after the close of business on Tuesday that the goal of the anti-Trump holdovers in DOJ is to set the stage for George Soros to purchase CNN, with the goal of retaining Jeff Zucker and CNN’s professed “Never Trump” bias.
If Soros were to acquire CNN, industry expectations is that Zucker and CNN would be certain to continue broadcasting the network’s non-stop criticism of the Trump presidency.
Throughout the 2016 election campaign and continuing into Donald Trump’s presidency, Zucker has been a champion of the “Never Trump” opposition movement, with CNN leading the charge to call for Trump’s impeachment.
On Nov. 10, Reuters reported Rupert Murdoch telephoned AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson twice in the last six months to talk about CNN, spurring rumors that Fox News might be interested in acquiring CNN to turn the network in a more conservative and libertarian direction.
Makan Delrahim, the DOJ attorney pressing AT&T to sell Turner Broadcasting, including CNN, or to divest of DirecTV as a condition of DOJ approval, was on record as recently a year ago as predicting when he was yet a law professor that AT&T’s $85.4 billion of Time Warner would be approved by regulators without any problems.
Industry insiders speculate that Delrahim has taken too literally Trump’s campaign statements that the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner was too big a deal to be approved without serious anti-trust scrutiny.
Trump’s concern really was CNN, these insiders insist, explaining Trump wanted assurances from AT&T before the acquisition was approved that AT&T would fire Zucker and change the editorial direction of CNN away from its anti-Trump bias once the acquisition was completed.
AT&T’s lead trial counsel in the case, Dan Petrocelli, a former Trump attorney, said on CNBC Tuesday morning that the DOJ’s lawsuit on the Time Warner deal was “fake antitrust”
On CNBC, Petrocelli insisted AT&T wants to go to court as soon as possible, adding, “We are going to defend this case and we expect to win it.”
Industry experts are siding with Ed Lee, managing editor at Recode, who told CNBC that AT&T has a “slam-dunk” case against DOJ should government anti-trust lawyers decide to block the Time Warner merger by filing an anti-trust lawsuit.
“Most antitrust challenges involve mergers between companies that serve the same customers (“horizontal” mergers), like Walgreens’ attempt to acquire Rite Aid, because horizontal mergers eliminate a competitive choice from the marketplace,” Fred Campbell pointed out at Tech Knowledge. The AT&T-Time Warner deal is a “vertical” merger of companies who don’t serve the same set of customers — Time Warner creates programming to sell to distributors and AT&T distributes programming to consumers.
Campbell argued that challenges to vertical mergers are rare because the number of competitive choices for each set of customers remains the same.
“To successfully challenge this vertical merger, DOJ would need to show that the combined company would have sufficient market power to foreclose rival video distributors from accessing Time Warner content or rival programmers from accessing AT&T’s distribution network,” Campbell stressed. “Precedent, economic theory, and empirical evidence make it unlikely that the DOJ could prove the combined company would have sufficient market power to engage in either foreclosure strategy.”
In his interview with CNBC, media mogul Barry Diller summed it up more simply.
“I think if they (DOJ) don’t approve it, they (AT&T) will win in court,” Diller said. “I would think they’ll fold, the government, but who knows. I think it would be a good court case – I would love to see the trial.”