Judges Question DOJ’s Arguments in Appeal of AT&T Antitrust Decision

WASHINGTON — AT&T’s merger with Time Warner faced a new round of judicial scrutiny on Thursday as a three-judge panel weighed whether there were clear errors in a district court decision that cleared the way for the transaction.

The panel — Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee; Robert L. Wilkins, an Obama appointee; and David Sentelle, a Reagan appointee — gave little clear indication of which way they were leaning.

But they did ask a number of skeptical questions to the Justice Department’s attorney, Michael Murray, and pressed him on just where the government can show that the lower court erred in its decision.

In June, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s 172-page decision ruled in favor of AT&T, and rejected all of the government’s arguments.

The Justice Department claims Leon ignored the “economics of bargaining,” and that he “illogically and erroneously concluded” that the merger would not give Time Warner, now known as WarnerMedia, more leverage. The government contends that the merger will allow WarnerMedia to extract higher prices for Turner content from distribution rivals, and that AT&T-owned DirecTV would ultimately benefit.

Related

Media Stocks Hang Tough as Markets Plunge for Second Day

Does the Government Stand a Chance in AT&T-Time Warner Merger Case?