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D.C. Circuit Court Questioning Suggests an Uphill Battle for the Justice Department to Defeat AT&T Acquisition

Drew Clark

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BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: The first news report that we've seen on Thursday's argument before the D.C. Circuit. While the Trump Justice Department attempted to stop the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, the deal has already closed after it was blessed by district court judge Richard Leon. This report emphasizes the tone and mood in the closely-watched case.

Justice Department's Push to Revive AT&T Case Hits Skeptical DC Circuit Panel, from National Law Journal

Six months after failing to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, the Justice Department urged a Washington federal appeals court Thursday to undo the multibillion-dollar merger deal, arguing that the combination creates a telecom giant with near-unbridled bargaining power.

The blockbuster hearing drew a close-to-capacity crowd to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where a three-judge panel heard arguments in what is widely considered the most significant antitrust case in decades. The panel—including Judges Robert Wilkins, Judith Rogers and David Sentelle—questioned four lawyers for two hours, allowing the advocates to speak well beyond their allotted time. As Sentelle said early on in the hearing, “We’re not very good at obeying the clock.”

In antitrust circles, the case was closely watched from the beginning as a rare example of the government contesting a so-called vertical merger. AT&T and Time Warner completed their merger in June after U.S. District Judge Richard Leon of the District of Columbia rebuffed the Justice Department’s challenge to the deal, which combined a pay-TV distributor with the content provider behind HBO and Turner channels such as CNN, TBS and TNT.

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Source: Justice Department's Push to Revive AT&T Case Hits Skeptical DC Circuit Panel | National Law Journal

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