US District Judge Richard Leon ruled entirely in AT&T’s favor. The Department of Justice had sued AT&T to block the merger, but the judge’s ruling, pending a possible appeal, would let AT&T complete the purchase without spinning off any subsidiaries.
The government failed to prove that the merger would substantially lessen competition or that AT&T would use its ownership of premium content to harm rival TV providers.
AT&T said it intends to close the merger by June 20. It’s not yet known whether the government will appeal the case. AT&T has been the nation’s largest pay-TV company since it acquired DirecTV in 2015, and it is one of the largest providers of home and mobile broadband service. Time Warner owns HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner Broadcasting System. As the owner of Time Warner, AT&T would be able to set the price that other cable or satellite companies must pay for a large quantity of TV programming.
The DOJ argued that buying Time Warner and its stable of popular TV programming would give AT&T too much control over programming and distribution.
Will we see higher bills and fewer choices of programming?
All that Power
The Justice Department sued to block the company’s AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid to buy Time Warner Inc.
A judge will determine whether the combination of AT&T and Time Warner would give the new entity too much power in the fast-changing media landscape.
It is assume that AT&T will surely press for a decision before April 22, the date before which the two companies can walk away without penalty.
The first major antitrust enforcement action to be brought by the Trump administration — dealt a blow to a tie-up that appeared to be sailing toward approval as recently as a month ago. That was before Makan Delrahim, was appointed to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division.
Delrahim contents that the merger would harm American consumers enormously. Resulting in higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.
The White House has traditionally stayed at arm’s length from merger reviews. Trump told reporters during his recent trip to Asia that the deal might be challenged in court.
Time Warner and AT&T combined, could use its control over programming like CNN and HBO to harm rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for the right to distribute the content, according to the 23-page complaint. The deal also would enable AT&T to impede competition from online video distributors, which would reduce choices for consumers, according to the complaint.
The government is open to dropping the lawsuit if the companies offer a proposal to fix the competitive harm from the deal, a Justice Department official said.
Currently there have been accusations that the Justice Department, driven by political meddling from the Trump White House, is pursuing a risky case that it’s bound to lose.
T-Mobile has agreed to spend at least $90 million in refunds to customers wrongfully billed for spam messages aka cramming. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has filed a lawsuit against the Un-carrier in July alleging it of profited millions of dollars from the practice. T-Mobile has agreed to settle the case by paying complete refunds to all clients who received unlawful charges for what carriers contact premium SMS, largely texts containing horoscopes, flirting tips and celebrity gossip, at times amounting to $9.99 a month. T-Mobile has to notify all clients eligible for refunds, including former shoppers who have switched to other carriers, and to inform them about the refund process in a “clear and conspicuous way.” The Un-carrier will also need to have to demand the express consent of buyers before sending them premium SMS and educate them how to block third-party solutions if they want not to receive any of them in the future.
The FTC has also reached a related settlement with AT&T to pay a total of $105 million in refunds and fines for the same practice. Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that a companion consumer bureau called the Consumer Economic Protection Bureau has filed a lawsuit against Sprint also for cramming.
AT&T has confirmed an April breach in which the personal information of a number of users was improperly accessed. AT&T also confirmed that personal information of an unknown number of AT&T Mobility customers was compromised by employees of a third-party vendor seeking to unlock phones.
Accounts were accessed without authorization between April 9 and April 21 by employees of one of AT&T’s service providers. This would include access to Social Security numbers and dates of birth. AT&T have notified customers and reported the incident to law enforcement.
Three of the largest US wireless service providers have announced that they will no longer charge their customers for unsolicited texts sent from so-called premium messaging services. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to stop billing users up to $10 per month for programs that send out weather advisories, sports updates, ringtone download links and phone wallpapers – sometimes subscription based, but often without the customer’s permission.
Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the US, is not listed among those companies who have decided to terminate these charges. The reason is they are planning to do away with their premium messaging business entirely – a decision made as a result of recent allegations that third parties have engaged in improper conduct in providing premium messaging services to their customers.
AT&T Inc customers will be able to upgrade their phones once a year instead of waiting two years. AT&T is defending itself against challenges from T-Mobile US . AT&T’s latest offering, does not require upfront device fees, comes as the No. 2 U.S. mobile provider strives to regain the market share it has been losing to market leader Verizon Wireless, and to fight back against tougher competition from smaller rivals like fourth-ranked T-Mobile US. AT&T’s offer, soon to be available on July 26, appeared to be a direct response to T-Mobile’s announcement last week that its customers can now upgrade smartphones as often as twice a year. AT&T will charge customers $15 to $50 per month, depending on the device, on top of monthly service fees under the new offering, which does not require a long-term service contract. By excluding upfront device fees in its plan, AT&T is hoping to compete with T-Mobile US, which still requires an upfront payment. T-Mobile US Chief Marketing Officer Mark Sievert says the monthly phone installments is a “trick” to get more money out of customers because it is not changing its monthly service fees. “If you’re going to charge separately for the phone like they’re doing then you need to reduce the price of the service. Otherwise you’re paying twice for the same phone.” According to data reported a Wall Street Journal article, Americans are upgrading their devices less often as innovation slows and current smartphones are more than adequate for their needs.
Twenty-five solar charging stations for mobile devices are coming to city parks, beaches, golf courses and other outdoor spaces this summer, courtesy of AT&T.