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US: Study finds AT&T/Time Warner merger stifles competition

 |  August 2, 2017

In a study done for Starz, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment, economist Jeffrey Eisenach argued that AT&T, if it wins antitrust approval to buy Time Warner, would have the incentive to push customers to HBO rather than Starz and other independent channels.

Eisenach said AT&T could do so by removing marketing support for Starz, making it harder for customers to sign up or by dropping the channel altogether.

The study did not take a position on whether the Justice Department should stop the deal or impose conditions.

AT&T took issue with the study’s conclusions that it could steer consumers away from Starz.

“This conclusion doesn’t square with the facts. We fully expect the DOJ (Justice Department) to base its analysis on the facts and the law, as it always does, and not the work of HBO’s competitors,” an AT&T spokesperson told Reuters.

The deal was criticized last year by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who accused media companies of being unfair in covering his campaign and said his Justice Department would block it. Eisenach was a member of Trump’s transition team.

Democrats have also taken issue with the proposed merger, saying it could harm consumers and content providers.

Full Content: Law 360 & Reuters

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