In the matter of the AT&T and Time Warner merger, Open Markets Institute sent the press release below to Zennie62Media. The organization has filed a “friend of the court” or “amicus” brief in the appeal of the recently-granted vertical merger of telecom companies AT&T and Time Warner. Here’s the release.
On June 12th, US District Judge Richard Leon allowed the vertical merger between telecom and satellite giant AT&T and Time Warner, a major owner of television content. His decision grants the combined corporation an unprecedented amount of political and economic power and control over news and entertainment. To arrive at his decision, Judge Leon ignored the Department of Justice’s detailed factual allegations, the competitive harms from vertical mergers, and the Clayton Act’s prohibition on mergers that threaten competition.
On August 13, the Open Markets Institute filed an amicus brief in support of the government’s appeal of Judge Leon’s adverse decision. The brief explains that vertical mergers present a number of economic and non-economic harms, especially in information and media markets. Judge Leon’s decision, if left to stand, would grant AT&T extraordinary power to use Time Warner content as an anticompetitive weapon.
Sandeep Vaheesan, Policy Counsel at the Open Markets Institute, said, “The Department of Justice’s appeal is critical to righting the district court’s wrong. Judge Leon’s ruling permits powerful distributors like AT&T to acquire essential content, such as CNN and HBO, and control media markets and also opens the door for a new wave of harmful vertical mergers.”
The Open Markets Institute calls on the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to use their full legal authorities—including rulemaking and the writing of new guidelines—to stop and undo anticompetitive vertical mergers, especially in news and information markets. Vertical mergers in concentrated markets pose a grave threat to the American economy and democracy and must be a priority for the federal antitrust agencies.
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