Defending itself against antitrust claims, AT&T says its proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner will enable the company to better compete against cable companies and "insurgent tech giants."
"The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner is a procompetitive, pro-consumer response to an intensely competitive and rapidly changing video marketplace," AT&T argues in court papers filed this week with U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C.
The telecom's papers come in response to the Justice Department's lawsuit to block the merger on the grounds that it will decrease competition and result in higher prices for consumers. The Justice Department said in court papers that the deal would leave AT&T in a position to harm video distributor rivals by raising their costs, resulting in higher bills for consumers. The government also said the deal would allow AT&T to hinder online distributors that threaten the pay TV model.
DOJ sued two weeks after reports surfaced that the Justice Department would not approve the deal unless AT&T sold CNN and other Turner properties. Those reports sparked concerns that the government was using its power to police antitrust as a pretext to strike at CNN for its news coverage -- which President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized.
AT&T disputes the government's position, arguing that the deal will enable new offerings, including the ability to "develop an over-the-top path for Time Warner content to reach consumers directly."
The telecom also says the deal will allow it to launch new ad-supported video models. The company also says it has plans to draw on consumer data for ads as well as decisions about content and programming.
AT&T also disputes the idea that it could harm competitors by withholding Time Warner content. The telecom argues that Google's move to launch YouTubeTV without Time Warner programs proves that Time Warner content isn't "essential" to competitors.