×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AT&T-DirecTV Merger: Court Decision May Clear Way for Review

For weeks, the FCC’s time clock for the AT&T-DirecTV merger and the now-dead Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger has been paused as the agency awaited a D.C. Circuit decision on just who could review key dealmaking documents.

That decision was delivered on Friday, and the appellate judges ruled against the FCC and in favor of major media companies that sought to limit access to such things as program contracts.

CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Co. hadn’t publicly weighed in on the mergers, but they challenged an FCC order to allow third parties to review confidentially programming contracts major media companies had as a way of commenting on what the market landscape will look like after consolidation.

Judge David Tatel said, however, that the FCC failed to show that the information was “necessary” to the review process. He also faulted the agency for departing from longstanding practice over the time frame by which media companies could challenge the disclosure of such information.

The decision doesn’t prevent the FCC from reviewing the contracts — just third parties. Media companies argued that, even with protective orders, competitors could gain access to trade secret information.

The FCC hasn’t said whether the decision means a 180-day “shot clock” for the review of the AT&T-DirecTV merger will be restarted, but the commission cited the pending appellate court ruling when it put the “shot clock” on pause.

“We are studying the opinion now and considering the options available to the commission,” an FCC spokesman said.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable called off their merger on April 24 after it became clear that the FCC and the Justice Department would move to block it.

Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National Assn. of Broadcasters, said in a statement, “We are delighted the court sided with broadcast networks and NAB in protecting highly confidential information from being widely disseminated during merger reviews.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • 'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Sees New

    'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Charts New Course as Stand-Alone

    A consortium built by some of the nation’s biggest media outlets to win new kinds of advertising is quickly changing its course. Founded in 2017 by Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, OpenAP was initially designed to help marketers figure out ways to buy advertising based on reaching segments of audience that aren’t defined [...]

  • Spin Lab

    Big Deal Inks Joint Venture With Ricky Reed’s Nice Life Company

    Independent music publisher Big Deal Music Group announced today that they have signed a joint venture deal with Nice Life Copyright Company, the music publishing company founded by Grammy-nominated producer/ writer/ artist Ricky Reed.  Under the terms of the agreement, Big Deal will administer songs for Nice Life, and the two companies will join forces [...]

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content