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AT&T Counsel: 'No Credible Evidence' Merger Will Hurt Consumers, Competition

AT&T Counsel: 'No Credible Evidence' Merger Will Hurt Consumers, Competition

The Justice Department is taking action to block AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s proposed merger with Time Warner Inc (NYSE: TWX).

What You Need To Know

The Justice Department is suing to block the $85 billion mega-merger, as it said the combined entity would result in "fewer innovative offerings and higher bills for American families." Naturally, AT&T disagrees with the assertion. There's "no credible evidence" the merger would harm consumers or hinder competition, Dan Petrocelli, AT&T's outside counsel, told CNBC.

The lawsuit cited comments by Turner's CEO, who allegedly said it has "leverage" over Dish and its online Sling TV service. A combined entity would be able to charge higher prices to online video distributors, who would be "s--t without Turner," the CEO said, according to the lawsuit. 

Petrocelli said the Justice Department picked out a "handful" of emails from 25 million pages of documents.

"In this world consumers have so many options. If they don't like somebody's programming they can go over-the-top, they can go to all of these new services through the internet."

Why It's Important

A perfect example which "puts a real bullet in the government's theory" can be found in Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s new TV subscription service through YouTube, Petrocelli said. The new streaming package doesn't include any of the Turner networks in the service.

What's Next?

"The goal of any show is to maximize viewership and distribution," the attorneys said. "Why in the world would AT&T purchase Time Warner to restrict viewership? To restrict distribution?" 

The theory against the merger "makes no sense," Petrocelli said, adding that AT&T wants to complete a classic vertical merger in an efficient transaction and without eliminating competitors. 

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Photo courtesy of AT&T. 


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