The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a brief [text, PDF] on Monday urging the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] to overturn a lower court’s decision to let AT&T and Time Warner [official websites] merge.
After a six-week trial [Jurist report] earlier this year, DC District Court Judge Richard Leon declined to enjoin the merger between the two major companies, stating that the DOJ had “failed to meet its burden to establish that the proposed transaction is likely to lessen competition substantially” and not be in the public interest. The DOJ announced plans to appeal in June.
The DOJ’s brief posits that while most vertical mergers are either pro-competitive or competitively neutral, the AT&T-Time Warner merger significantly decreases competition. The brief argues that Judge Leon failed to consider Turner’s expansive programming content and the vast “distribution footprint” of AT&T’s DirecTV when determining whether the merger would allow AT&T to have an advantage over other distributors. Additionally, the brief says the district court’s ruling is “internally inconsistent” and that it did not properly consider evidence that the merger would lead to increased prices for both distributors and consumers.
The issue will now go before [WSJ report] a three-judge panel in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit