AT&T-Time Warner Trial: DOJ Grills Executive on Comment About Pay TV ‘Golden Goose’

WASHINGTON — The AT&T-Time Warner antitrust trial entered its fourth week on Monday as the Justice Department grilled an executive about the extent to which AT&T-owned DirecTV was concerned that the launch of its new streaming service would cannibalize the “golden goose” of its traditional satellite pay service.

But the executive, Devin Merrill, insisted that senior executives at the company threw their support behind the November 2016, launch of DirecTV Now, an internet service that offered a slimmer, cheaper bundle of channels than most of the satellite package offerings. Merrill was the general manager of the new streaming service.

Justice Department attorney Peter Schwingler asked Merrill about an email he wrote to a company research team in April, 2016, in which he talked about making DirecTV Now “as strong as possible without killing the golden goose” of premium satellite subscribers. Merrill acknowledged the email, but said it was not a “specific objective” to launch the new service without harming sales of the satellite service.

Schwinger tried to show that AT&T executives sought to emphasize selling subscriptions to the pay TV satellite service first before using the streaming service as a fallback. But Merrill said they adopted a “needs-based” selling approach, based in part on how a potential customer inquired about a subscription.

He said he considered DirecTV Now a “big success,” with more than one million subscribers. He added that the company launched the service with a promotional offer that included $35 a month for 100 channels, Apple TV for those who prepaid for three months, and an extra $5 for Showtime and HBO.

One of the arguments that the Justice Department is making is that AT&T, in merging with Time Warner, will seek to preserve its traditional pay TV revenue stream at the expense of innovation.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon closed the proceedings for Monday afternoon as attorneys engaged in a hearing that involved confidential information. The open portion of the trial is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

More Biz

  • IWC Schaffhausen store opening, Rodeo Drive,

    8 Luxury Gifts That Industry Leaders Are Spending Their Paychecks On

    Whether you’re celebrating a new launch, a new business venture, or toasting to the end of another successful year, here are eight gift ideas to reward yourself — and to impress the company you keep. 1. Saint Laurent Perforated Leather Tote Bag If you work in the industry, you need a good bag, and you’ve [...]

  • best airlines ranked inflight entertainment

    Holiday Travel Survey Reveals Airlines With Best In-Flight Entertainment

    There are many ways to pass the time if you’re in the air, but for most people, settling in with a glass of wine and a movie is the preferred way to fly. But not all airlines share the same script when it comes to entertainment offerings. A new survey from the website, CableTV.com, ranked [...]

  • Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass

    Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass Attendance, Structural Growth

    BUENOS AIRES — Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a huge hike in attendance to over 4,000 accredited delegates, the 2018 Ventana Sur will go down in history on multiple counts: Sales and pick-ups on movies which combined social comment and entertainment value, increasingly the new foreign-language movie standard; new sections, led by a Proyecta co-production [...]

  • Jennifer Lawrence Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Bragged of Sex With Jennifer Lawrence, Lawsuit Claims

    Harvey Weinstein was hit with a lawsuit Friday from an actress who claims he forcibly performed oral sex on her, repeatedly masturbated in front of her, and threatened to harm her career if she objected. According to the suit, Weinstein pushed her to the ground during a meeting in his office in 2013. He then [...]

  • Times Up Hollywood

    Time's Up Entertainment Announces New Industry Mentoring Initiative

    Time’s Up Entertainment, an affiliate of the Time’s Up coalition of women across industries working to improve workplace safety, has announced the “Who’s in the Room” industry mentoring initiative. The program’s goal is to increase the presence of people of color from diverse backgrounds in the entertainment industry’s executive ranks. Funded by a $500,000 grant from [...]

  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in

    Paramount Inks Deal for Theme Park in South Korea

    Paramount Pictures has announced a deal to install a studio-branded theme park in an entertainment resort being developed in South Korea. The agreement was struck between Paramount and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which owns the Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in the South Korean city of Incheon. Mohegan has invested KRW 2.8 trillion ($2.4 billion) in [...]

  • Davan Maharaj Mel Gibson

    L.A. Times Publisher's Lawyer Was Accused of Extorting Mel Gibson

    The attorney who negotiated a $2.5 million exit package for L.A. Times publisher Davan Maharaj was previously accused of using secret recordings to extort actor Mel Gibson. Surreptitious recordings also figure in the Maharaj case. NPR reported on Wednesday that Maharaj taped Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. According to the report, Ferro was heard on the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content