What You Need To Know About The AT&T-Time Warner Appeal

December 6, 2018

The Justice Department will have another chance this week to stop AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, CNN's parent company that has since been renamed WarnerMedia.

A three-judge panel will hear oral arguments on Thursday from attorneys representing the Justice Department and AT&T. The government's lawyers will try to convince the judges that a lower court's logic for approving of the $85 billion merger in June was flawed.

Each side will have 30 minutes to make its case. The Justice Department is granting 10 minutes of its time to a group of 27 antitrust scholars called an "amicus curiae" to make the case for the government's side.

There will be no witnesses to call or new evidence to introduce. The case will hinge solely on the evidence and hours of testimony presented during the six week trial that started in March.

The Justice Department has argued that by owning WarnerMedia, which includes stalwart brands like HBO, WarnerBros and TBS, AT&T would have "both the incentive and the ability to raise its rivals' costs and stifle growth of innovative, next-generation entrants that offer attractive alternatives to AT&T/DirecTV's legacy pay-TV model—all to the detriment of American consumers."

AT&T, the Justice Department claimed, would have greater bargaining leverage because the company could threaten to "black out" Time Warner content -- pulling it from rival distributors during negotiations -- because customers would drop their current providers and switch to AT&T services like DirecTV in order to watch its content. The Justice Department alleged that AT&T would also have the power to raise the prices its competitors pay for Time Warner's content.

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