×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Smaller Cable Operators Propose Remedy for AT&T-Time Warner Merger

WASHINGTON — The American Cable Association, representing smaller multichannel video providers, is proposing a remedy to address what it sees as competitive harms from AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner.

In a filing with U.S. District Court in D.C., ACA and one of its members, RCN Telecom, outlined a plan in which carriage disputes over Time Warner content can be settled in arbitration, with similarities to the conditions imposed on Comcast’s combination with NBC Universal in 2011.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said he will announce his decision on the merger on June 12, following a six-week trial.

The Justice Department sued to block the transaction in November, claiming that AT&T will gain increased leverage to extract price increases from distribution rivals for networks like CNN, TBS and TNT. After the lawsuit was filed, Time Warner’s Turner networks offered to go into binding “baseball-style” arbitration with AT&T’s rivals in carriage disputes. It prohibits Turner’s networks from being pulled off the air during the arbitration process.

In the filing, ACA and the other cable operators said that the arbitration offer was “completely insufficient to address the harms.”

Instead, they want a remedy in which arbitration would cover all programming managed by a combined AT&T-Time Warner, instead of just Turner networks. They also outline a series of other provisions, including allowing smaller distributors to use a bargaining agent in arbitration; requiring greater information sharing before final offers are made; prohibiting retaliation against broadband subscribers of AT&T rivals; and providing a chance to the arbitration remedy after a few years for modification and even extension.

At one point in the trial, Leon asked whether a modified arbitration would be a more palatable merger remedy.

In their filing, ACA and RCN say that they are “concerned that the remedies proffered in this case by the parties present an all-or-nothing choice, with no middle ground, and the parties overstate their claims that the Court has limited authority and discretion to impose another solution.”

The Justice Department said that if Leon finds that the merger violates antitrust law, he should propose only structural remedies, in which AT&T-Time Warner have to exclude assets from the transition, like the Turner networks, or divest others, like DirecTV.

AT&T-Time Warner say that their arbitration offer is not a remedy but a “commitment,” and that it should be considered by Leon as he assesses the impact of the merger.

Update: AT&T-Time Warner, in its own filing, oppose the filing.

“RCN’s participation as amicus is especially unwarranted because, as the motion acknowledges, RCN’s Chief Executive Officer James Holanda already testified at trial,” the companies said in a brief filed on Tuesday.

They said that the brief presents opinions Holanda already expressed, but “to the extent the brief asserts additional views, it is an impermissible effort to expand the factual record, while shielding its newly-stated opinions and criticisms from the clarifying scrutiny of cross-examination.”

More Politics

  • White House Chief of Staff John

    John Kelly to Depart as White House Chief of Staff, Trump Says

    WASHINGTON — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will leave his post toward at the end of the year, President Trump told reporters on Saturday. Kelly has long been rumored to be on his way out. At one point, Trump announced that Kelly would stay in his post through 2020, but that didn’t end [...]

  • Paul Manafort

    Manafort Lied About Contacts With Trump Administration, Robert Mueller's Team Says

    WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, lied about his contacts with Trump administration figures, breaching his plea agreement. “Manafort told multiple discernible lies — these were not instances of mere memory lapses,” Mueller’s team said in a filing on Friday. Much of the filing was [...]

  • Michael Cohen (C), President Donald Trump's

    Prosecutors Call for 'Substantial Term' in Prison for Michael Cohen

    WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, should get a “substantial term” in prison, even as he has been assisting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The sentencing recommendations were outlined in a sentencing memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in [...]

  • Sinclair Broadcast Group

    FCC Chairman Announces New Administrative Law Judge

    WASHINGTON — Jane Hinckley Halprin will serve as the FCC’s new administrative law judge, succeeding Richard Sippel, who has been in the post for 32 years. Halprin’s appointment could have an impact on Sinclair Broadcast Group. In July, the FCC referred Sinclair’s proposed merger with Tribune Media to the judge, on the claim that the [...]

  • at&t time warner merger

    Judges Question DOJ's Arguments in Appeal of AT&T Antitrust Decision

    WASHINGTON — AT&T’s merger with Time Warner faced a new round of judicial scrutiny on Thursday as a three-judge panel weighed whether there were clear errors in a district court decision that cleared the way for the transaction. The panel — Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee; Robert L. Wilkins, an Obama appointee; and David Sentelle, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content