AT&T can defend Time Warner deal from US government with arbitration clause

A federal judge has allowed AT&T to use an argument to defend its acquisition of Time Warner that the US government had wanted to strike down in its antitrust lawsuit to stop the deal from happening.

In response to the government’s claim that subscribers would have to pay 45 cents more per month for channels under the Time Warner umbrella such as Cartoon Network, CNN and HBO, AT&T countered by saying that it was committed to binding arbitration with its competing distributors for the next 7 years in negotiating licensing rates — the Department of Justice says that only 20 of 1,000 distributors had accepted the commitment.

Reuters reports that the DoJ had requested that the commitment not be allowed to factor into the defense, saying that a “unilateral promise” did not guarantee presence of competition in the distribution marketplace. Judge Richard Leon said that trying for a block on those grounds wastes “the court’s limited time and [would] confuse the proceedings.”

Leon would also again refuse AT&T’s request to have the government release communications between the White House and legal counsel in regards to if President Donald Trump’s publicly displayed bias against the deal had anything to do with the lawsuit being initiated.

The case over the $85 billion transaction is now on trial.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.