×

DOJ’s Appeal of AT&T-Time Warner Decision Sets Date for Oral Arguments

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s appeal of the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust decision has been set for oral argument on Dec. 6.

A panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals will hear from both sides in the case as it weighs whether to overturn all or parts of U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s decision in favor of the companies. The judicial members of the panel will be revealed a month before the arguments, around Nov. 6, the court said.

The Justice Department contends that Leon’s decision was inconsistent and contained an “erroneous rejection of the economics of bargaining and the principle of corporate-wide profit maximization.” AT&T-Time Warner argues that Leon’s decision soundly rejected each of the government’s arguments, including that the merger would give the combined company increased leverage to drive up content prices to rivals, and those costs would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

What is unclear is whether the appellate court will in any way address the issue of selective enforcement, or claims that AT&T-Time Warner was unfairly singled out for a lawsuit because President Trump opposed the merger and routinely bashes the news coverage of Time Warner-owned CNN.

Popular on Variety

Last month, the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press filed an amicus brief in the case, asking that the judges clarify “that in cases like this one, where selective enforcement could chill news reporting in the public interest, and where there is strong evidence of discriminatory intent, courts may order discovery.” They argue that there was “copious evidence of discriminatory intent on the part of the president” to warrant discovery.

In a pre-trial hearing, Leon denied AT&T-Time Warner’s motion to pursue discovery of those claims, ruling that it had failed to meet the threshold to trigger that line of defense.

But the Reporters Committee, in its amicus brief, said that Leon’s pre-trial ruling “could preclude discovery even in cases where a chief executive said he would happily selectively enforce the law, such as by revocation of a television network affiliate’s license or commencement of an antitrust case against Amazon, for example, whose CEO and founder owns The Washington Post, or Salesforce, whose co-CEO and founder just purchased Time magazine.”

Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Antitrust Division, denies that the decision to sue to block the merger was influenced by the White House.

In a brief filed last week, the DOJ said that “AT&T sought irrelevant and overly expansive discovery into alleged White House communications, beyond those with the Antitrust Division, but the district court correctly denied that request before trial, and AT&T sought no further review. The only issue on appeal is whether the court’s Clayton Act decision is erroneous, and the answer is yes.”

More Politics

  • Police and rescue workers stand next

    Dozens Injured as Car Plows Into German Carnival Parade

    More than 30 people were injured on Monday in the western German town of Volkmarsen when a man drove his car into a crowd of people watching a carnival parade. The 29-year-old driver, reportedly a German national, is suspected of purposely targeting the crowd when he drove a Mercedes-Benz station wagon into the Rose Monday [...]

  • The Suspended Mourning

    Berlin: Hernan Caffiero Sets Up Two Series About Victims of Police Violence as Chilean Industry Protests Brutality (EXCLUSIVE)

    Inspired by the victims of violent crackdowns by Chilean police, filmmaker Hernán Caffiero is looking to tell their story. Caffiero is currently developing two series about human rights crimes and the effects of police brutality in Chile, one a four-part documentary, the other a follow-up to his Intl. Emmy-winning “The Suspended Mourning,” a dramatized collection [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Wins Nevada Democratic Caucus

    UPDATED: Bernie Sanders has won the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 46.8% of the delegates with 10% of precincts reporting. Joe Biden is in a distant second with 20.2%. Peter Buttigieg finished third with 14.3% with Elizabeth Warren in fourth with 9.7%. Tom Steyer finished fifth with 4.7%. Amy Klobuchar round [...]

  • Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Ditches Donald Trump for Mike Bloomberg in 2020 Election

    Longtime Republican Clint Eastwood is pulling support from Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the actor-director signaled that he thinks a different candidate would be the better choice. “The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there,” he said. After endorsing Mitt Romney [...]

  • EFM 1st European Film Politics Seminar

    Berlin: 1st European Film Politics Seminar - Protecting Independent Film Production

    Leading industry reps gathered on the opening day of Berlin’s European Film Market for what is certain to be a continuing discussion about leveling the playing field for independent producers across Europe and demanding greater engagement in the sector from global players. The 1st European Film Politics Seminar aims to set the political agenda of [...]

  • Donald Trump Parasite

    Trump Mocks 'Parasite' Best Picture Win: 'What the Hell Was That All About?'

    President Donald Trump took aim at “Parasite’s” historic Oscar wins at a Colorado rally on Thursday. “How bad were the Academy Awards this year?” he asked, prompting jeers from the crowd. “Did you see it?” “The winner is… a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all about?” he went on. “We got [...]

  • EFM Euro Film Policy Seminar

    Berlin: European Film Policy Seminar Examines Changing Landscape

    The Berlinale’s European Film Market opened on Thursday with the inaugural European Film Politics Seminar, offering a look at the pressing challenges facing independent European producers in a fast-changing landscape increasingly dominated by the growing number of U.S. streaming giants. The seminar was hosted by Steven Gaydos, executive vice president of global content of Variety. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content