WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Bring it!” is building among industry experts as the response AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson should give the Obama administration holdovers in the Department of Justice trying to force AT&T to sell CNN as a condition of approving the Time Warner merger, in a move to save Jeff Zucker and CNN’s determined anti-Trump agenda.
Meanwhile, President Trump, back in Washington after his Asia trip, has resumed attacking CNN.
“While in the Philippines I was forced to watch @CNN, which I have not done in months, and again realized how bad, and FAKE, it is. Loser!” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Industry experts are siding with Ed Lee, managing editor at Recode, who told CNBC that AT&T has a “slam-dunk” case against DOJ should government anti-trust lawyers decide to block the Time Warner merger by filing an anti-trust lawsuit.
“Most antitrust challenges involve mergers between companies that serve the same customers (“horizontal” mergers), like Walgreens’ attempt to acquire Rite Aid, because horizontal mergers eliminate a competitive choice from the marketplace,” Fred Campbell pointed out at Tech Knowledge. The AT&T-Time Warner deal is a “vertical” merger of companies who don’t serve the same set of customers — Time Warner creates programming to sell to distributors and AT&T distributes programming to consumers.
Campbell argued that challenges to vertical mergers are rare because the number of competitive choices for each set of customers remains the same.
“To successfully challenge this vertical merger, DOJ would need to show that the combined company would have sufficient market power to foreclose rival video distributors from accessing Time Warner content or rival programmers from accessing AT&T’s distribution network,” Campbell stressed. “Precedent, economic theory, and empirical evidence make it unlikely that the DOJ could prove the combined company would have sufficient market power to engage in either foreclosure strategy.”
In his interview with CNBC, media mogul Barry Diller summed it up more simply.
“I think if they (DOJ) don’t approve it, they (AT&T) will win in court,” Diller said. “I would think they’ll fold, the government, but who knows. I think it would be a good court case – I would love to see the trial.”
Reuters reported that Fox News giant Rupert Murdoch telephoned AT&T CEO Stephenson twice in the last six months to talk about acquiring CNN, though Stephenson has repeatedly made clear AT&T have no interest in selling CNN.
Infowars.com has reported sources close to the AT&T acquisition on both Wall Street and Washington confirmed to Infowars.com after the close of business on Tuesday that the goal of the anti-Trump holdovers in DOJ is to set the stage for George Soros to purchase CNN, with the goal of retaining Jeff Zucker and CNN’s professed “Never Trump” bias.
If Soros were to acquire CNN, industry expectations is that Zucker and CNN would be certain to continue broadcasting the network’s non-stop criticism of the Trump presidency.
Throughout the 2016 election campaign and continuing into Donald Trump’s presidency, Zucker has been a champion of the “Never Trump” opposition movement, with CNN leading the charge to call for Trump’s impeachment.