Why the Feds Don’t Want Temporary Fixes for the AT&T-Time Warner Merger

In 2011, Comcast and NBC Universal agreed to 150 conditions and commitments in order to get their merger approved by regulators.If AT&T and Time Warner had been offered the same deal, they’d probably be introducing new programs and mobile video packages by now.Instead, they’re headed to U.S. District Court in Washington, where the Justice Department is suing to block the combination. The trial, scheduled to start March 19, would be the first so-called vertical merger to be litigated in decades.The stakes are big for AT&T because the Dallas telecom giant is betting the future — and almost $109 billion, including debt — on the next evolution of mobile entertainment. It’s risky for the government, in part because President Donald Trump has been railing against CNN, a Time Warner property, and the case feels personal.Why wasn’t there a settlement? One reason is that Trump’s top antitrust enforcer doesn’t want the kind of conditions that were in the Comcast deal, even though they’ve worked pretty well.“Behavioral remedies presume that the Justice Department should serve as a roving ombudsman of the affairs of business,” said Makan Delrahim, who heads the department’s antitrust division. “Even if we wanted to do that, we often don’t have the skills or the tools to do so effectively.”  Continue reading...

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