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FCC Gives DoJ a Boost in Appeal Against AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Dan Jones
8/14/2018
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The FCC is giving the DoJ a boost in its appeal against the approval of the $84 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner, saying that Judge Richard Leon should have given more weight to AT&T's previous comments on other mergers when presiding over the TW case.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has previously approved the AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)-TW merger without a lengthy review. The Trump administration U.S. Department of Justice had wanted to stop the merger but lost in court, as a judge passed it without conditions on June 12. (See AT&T Wins Big, Gets Bigger: Judge Approves AT&T-Time Warner Merger.)

The DoJ appealed that decision a month later in July. (See The US DOJ May Be Appealing the AT&T-Time Warner Merger Trial and DOJ Says Judge Erred in AT&T-Time Warner Merger Appeal .)

Now the FCC -- which says it isn't taking a position in this latest case -- has submitted a court brief, as reported by Ars Technica.

Basically, the FCC took issue with the importance that Judge Leon placed on AT&T and DirecTV comments on the Comcast/NBCU merger of 2010. FCC rules prohibit both intentional misrepresentations and "inaccurate statements submitted due to negligence," the agency stated in the brief.

"AT&T and DirecTV were subject to this obligation when they submitted comments in earlier FCC merger proceedings. Thus, there was no reason for the district court to treat those comments as less credible simply because AT&T and DirecTV were 'competitors' of the merger applicants in those proceedings (rather than the applicants themselves)," the FCC stated.

For its part, AT&T executives have consistently described the merger as a done deal since the June approval, even as the DoJ attempts the reversal of its mega-merger.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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