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AT&T and DOJ prepare to battle in Time Warner deal trial

AT&T and DOJ prepare to battle in Time Warner deal trial

The respective legal teams of AT&T and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) outlined their cases as they prepare for the Time Warner deal trial, which is set to begin this week. 

According to a report published by Reuters, the lawyers representing the DOJ are ready to argue that if the Time Warner deal is closed, AT&T would be put in a good position to force subscribers of Time Warner to avail of the national wireless carrier’s DirecTV service by holding some video content hostage.

It was back in November of last year when it was reported that the DOJ was making a move to stop AT&T from completing its acquisition of Time Warner. The DOJ then proceeded to file a lawsuit in order to block the deal, which is reportedly worth $85 billion. The US agency claims that should the Time Warner deal push through, it would almost certainly lead to higher prices for consumers and even cultivate unfair competition in the industry. The DOJ further stated that closing the acquisition would mean raising the average cable bill of US subscribers by $0.45.

AT&T, however, is prepared to throw some valid counter arguments. As pointed out by the second biggest mobile operator in the country, blocking the Time Warner deal it has been working on would prove to be a catastrophe for its business. 

Lawyers representing AT&T are also ready to argue that it is unfair that traditional cable TV service providers in America are falling behind in terms of innovation, while web based business entities such as YouTube (which is owned by Google) and Netflix are redefining how customers purchase and consume media.

In this particular regard, representatives from YouTube and other Internet related firms are expected by many to play a role in the Time Warner deal. Specifically, they will be made to testify on the overall impact of Time Warner’s family of TV stations to the company’s competitors, networks that have the potential to serve as an important bargaining chip when it comes to licensing deals in the future.

Also, AT&T’s legal team is confident that the DOJ will not be able to provide ample evidence that the Time Warner deal would indeed lead to increase of rates or negatively affect the health of the competition.

AT&T also has reason to believe that President Donald Trump is influencing the DOJ’s move to stop the Time Warner deal from happening. As a matter of fact, the number two wireless service provider in the US had requested access to communications between the White House and the DOJ, but a judge has since struck down that request.