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Critics of the proposed AT&T merger with Time Warner were joined by an unexpected ally this week: the government of the United States.
Until recently, approval for the deal by the Department of Justice was considered a shoe-in. While the government might require some promises about not treating competing media companies unfairly or some sort of net neutrality-style pricing agreement, it was not expected to place any substantial obstacles in the way of the deal.
Indications - AT - T - Warner - Bros
By all indications, AT&T would combine Warner Bros, HBO, DirectTV, and CNN–the largest film studio, the largest premium television channel, the largest pay-TV provider, and one of the largest cable news networks–and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.
It was a strange set of circumstances, to be sure. Politicians of all sorts were critical of the deal, including Donald Trump, Tim Kaine, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. On the campaign trail in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Trump went so far as to say he would block the deal.
Leaders - Business - Columnists - Government - Actions
But corporate leaders and business columnists told us that the government was unlikely to take significant actions to halt or require a major restructuring of the deal. Somehow the American government was expected to be paralyzed when it came to taking action to block a politically unpopular $85.4 billion deal.
“I kept asking: what happened to the American government that it was suddenly incapable of doing anything to stop this corporate behemoth? Did someone secretly pass a constitutional amendment that protected corporate interests against American democracy?” one former advisor to the Trump campaign who never entered the administration said.
Government - Authority - Changes - Merger - Justice
Now we know that the government does indeed believe it has the authority to require serious changes to the merger and perhaps even to block it altogether. The Justice Department has...
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