The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, setting up a potential courtroom showdown.
The WGA West, which represents more than 9,000 members, said it has always opposed the proposed deal because it would undermine competition, restrict consumer access, and raise prices.
The transaction looked to be on its way to government approval just a few months ago, but the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has made it clear in recent weeks that it was prepared to challenge the transaction. They reportedly told AT&T executives that selling Turner Broadcasting or DirecTV could be a possible remedy for their concerns.
Here is the entire WGA West statement:
“Writers Guild of America West welcomes action by the U.S. Department of Justice to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. As we have stated since this deal was first proposed, the size, scope, and potential harm to both consumers and content creators provide ample reason to block the merger on its merits. The proposed combination of must-have content with vast control over distribution would give the company broad power to undermine competition, restrict access to programming, and raise prices. This merger would result in a media behemoth even larger than the failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable venture, and should be stopped. With reports surfacing each week of other possible media mergers, blocking this deal has only become more critical.”
The WGA East, which represents 4,000 members, issued a similar statement Monday:
“The Writers Guild of America, East agrees with the U.S. Department of Justice that the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner should be blocked. The entire media industry has been consolidating for a number of years, with very little interference from the agencies entrusted to preserve competition in the public interest. The proposed merger would continue that dangerous trend, offering storytellers fewer opportunities to create and distribute content that informs and enlightens viewers. It would leave the media industry with even fewer gatekeepers – a narrower range of people deciding what people watch. This is not good for audiences and it’s not good for democracy.”
“Vertical integration can harm consumers and industries. Concentration of economic power is not in the interests of the American people. This merger should not go through.”