trynumber9 4 months ago

The DOJ had tried to stop the deal[1] but it appears that the court ruled it could carry on [2].

  Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a statement the DOJ was "disappointed 
  with the Court's decision today. We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be 
  less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and 
  Time Warner. We will closely review the Court's opinion and consider next steps in light 
  of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers."
[1]: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-time-warner-m-a-at-t/u-s-...

[2]: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/judge-rules-on-att-time-warner-...

  • class4behavior 4 months ago

    The irony is, their monopoly power and the conflicts of interest could be much less worrisome if net neutrality were in place.

    • debt 4 months ago

      I believe the timing of this was intentional.

      • ars 4 months ago

        And what are you basing your belief on?

        And don't forget this is the entertainment time warner, not the internet service. So I'm curious what intentional timing you found, and how it relates to net neutrality.

        • ajmurmann 4 months ago

          One of the biggest issues is when companies that should focus on shipping bits for their customers also have incentive to care about what the bits represent. So this being the entertainment Time Warner is what makes this bad. Got slow service with Netflix or worse a tiny player like Mubi? Why not watch magically super fast Time Warner content that doesn't count against your data cap either?

    • ars 4 months ago

      Wrong Time Warner. This is the entertainment part, not the internet service.

      • dbatten 4 months ago

        Parent is correct. The worry is AT&T giving preferential treatment to their new Time Warner content on their own network...

      • coldtea 4 months ago

        That's what makes it the right Time Warner. AT&T has the internet/mobile service part already.

  • TimTheTinker 4 months ago

    Glad to hear the executive branch did something in favor of the people instead of corporations.

    • noobermin 4 months ago

      Do you not know about the context? The admin threatened to block the deal because Trump didn't like CNN's coverage of himself. Neither side is all that great here. Even if the DOJ lawyers wanted to pursue it for the right reasons, Trump and by extension Sessions let it go through because of his animosity towards CNN.

      • murph-almighty 4 months ago

        This was probably the most frustrating part of this entire process- they had so many other arguments they could have pulled out of a bag and instead CNN was the one issue that the executive branch had?

        • jimmy1 4 months ago

          That's the one issue that would most likely rally his base.

          • soundwave106 4 months ago

            It sounds like this issue rallied AT&T / Time Warner's legal team as well. Per the article, it sounded like AT&T / Time Warner used this "issue" to demonstration that the DOJ was opposing the merger not due to any logical reason, but out of spite.

  • dm8 4 months ago

    Can they appeal the case in higher courts?

    • jld 4 months ago

      The merger is set to close next Monday. DOJ can file for a stay, but the judge warned them that would be unwise.

      I think the DOJ will just take it as a loss.

      • mehrdadn 4 months ago

        > DOJ can file for a stay, but the judge warned them that would be unwise.

        What would they have to lose?

        • steve19 4 months ago

          I think the judge is saying they bungled the case so bad that an appeal will be a waste of the courts time. Sounds like the warning is more of an admonishment to the DOJ for wasting the courts time with confusing and unconvincing case.

        • asr 4 months ago

          Well, this judge would decide that motion, so it seems like he's told them they would be wasting their time. The realistic options are (1) file for a say ASAP with an eye toward asking the court of appeals to grant the stay after this judge denies it, (2) keep litigating after the deal goes through, or (3) admit defeat. I'm no expert in #1 but I assume it is also very unlikely to work in time to stop the merger (otherwise I think the DOJ would have gone that route).

          That leaves litigating after the merger goes through, or just giving up. Often the FTC or DOJ will chose not to keep litigating mergers if they lose in district court because even if they win later, they don't think they will be able to get a very effective remedy--the deal will have gone through and it won't be possible to put everything back to the way it was. (If you are an antitrust lawyer, you for some reason have to talk about this using the phrase "you can't unscramble the eggs.") But it does happen sometimes--Whole Foods/Wild Oats was a good example where, if I remember correctly, Whole Foods had to sell of some of the stores they purchased from Wild Oats years later after winning their merger case in district court but losing the appeal.

        • eftychis 4 months ago

          That is a good question. Anyone with knowledge on the topic care to pitch in and elaborate? It seems to me it is within the rights (and "obligation") of DOJ to appeal and pursue this further.

          The burden to prove impact on competition is on the plaintiff. The article does not elaborate on the judge's argument about how they failed. I am curious about the other side's argument also.

          Two statements to ponder: >>"The bulk of the third-party competitor testimony proffered by the government was speculative, based on unproven assumptions, or unsupported -- or even contradicted -- by the government’s own evidence," Leon wrote.

          >> "I couldn’t help but notice that the more and more questions were raised during trial about the reliability of Professor Shapiro’s theory and model, the more the government appeared to be minimizing the importance of his analysis," the judge wrote.

          I can only infer from this the judge felt DOJ did not have a consistent and non-speculative case (see above). I am not sure what they can bring up during appeals as new evidence. They can appeal the speculation argumentation I guess.

          In general, I am not sure what else one can bring to the table regarding mergers. Yes, whatever you bring to the table is going to be some form of speculation. That in itself should not be enough for dismissal, in my opinion of course. The law says differently (substantial). The defendant can always claim they are not going to raise prices. If 5 years from now, the consumer is <place word of choice here with negative connotation>, nobody is going to recall this merge as the root.

          People just find it too hard to understand the impact of financial actions (one of the reasons you do not see SEC filing more often).

          I am awaiting for the written ruling, but having checked previous cases, and inaction from DOJ, I don't expect much.

          P.S. I am not sure this is really a vertical merger. It doesn't seem this clear cut to me. Thoughts on this?

        • mattnewton 4 months ago

          Taxpayer dollars I guess? Still don’t like the tone of that though.

          • mehrdadn 4 months ago

            Yeah I meant besides the obvious time and money.

        • bmelton 4 months ago

          > What would they have to lose?

          Their professional reputations.

      • ianai 4 months ago

        I hope we see some lawsuits fighting this precedent all the way to the scotus. It’s that or an amendment, but who knows whether we’ll ever see that level of outrage.

      • blind_boy_grunt 4 months ago

        Yes they can, but they probably will not. Otherwise the Assistant AG's statement would have said so. Notice how he danced around it.

  • calimac 4 months ago

    #CorruptFederalJudges

  • skywhopper 4 months ago

    This pull quote is pretty convincing evidence that the DOJ doesn’t comprehend the stakes at all. “Pay TV” is way too small a lens to be thinking about this through. Internet access has a much much bigger impact on people’s lives than mere TV (or the streaming equivalent).

    • maxerickson 4 months ago

      Time Warner doesn't have much to do with internet access though, they sold their cable business to Charter a couple years ago.

      That's why analysts are talking about this as a vertical merger, AT&T doesn't have the massive presence in content production that they have in various communication businesses.

dang 4 months ago

Merging the threads now. Submitted URLs so far, besides this one:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/business/dealbook/att-tim...

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/12/att-time-warner-ruling.html

https://www.dallasnews.com/business/att/2018/06/12/att-wins-...

http://about.att.com/story/att_to_acquire_time_warner.html

If anyone knows a significantly better URL for this submission, let us know and we can change it again.

jandrese 4 months ago

Yet more media consolidation. And this one has the inherent conflicts of interest you get when a distributor buys out a producer.

And of course the idea of protecting the public interest isn't a thing anymore in DC.

  • platinumrad 4 months ago

    To be fair, the DOJ actually tried to stop this but was overruled by the courts.

    • gm-conspiracy 4 months ago

      Jeff Sessions, servant of the people?

      • ghostbrainalpha 4 months ago

        Jeff Sessions, servant of some of the people?

    • ribosometronome 4 months ago

      To be fair, the DOJ's motives were completely tainted by Trump's hostility toward CNN.

      • kuraudo 4 months ago

        I get what you're saying, but that shouldn't matter in a sane world. This merger is bad news for the citizenry.

        • TomMckenny 4 months ago

          >This merger is bad news for the citizenry.

          It is. And had it been successfully blocked, the message would be clearly understood by media outlet owners far beyond CNN's owner.

          It is in fact lose-lose.

          Same goes for whatever ends up happening to Amazon/WaPo.

          This is the only anti-trust you can expect to see now.

      • paulddraper 4 months ago

        Obviously, whatever Trump does is bad, whether busting monopolies or not busting monopolies.

        • takeda 4 months ago

          That was a good thing, but for wrong reasons.

        • jakevn 4 months ago

          Has Trump been busting monopolies?

          • paulddraper 4 months ago

            Well, that was the attempt here.

            • croon 4 months ago

              No, the attempt was silencing unfavorable media. The monopoly part was a neglected side effect.

  • whoopdedo 4 months ago

    The distributor/producer boat sailed with NBC-Universal-Comcast.

  • craftyguy 4 months ago

    Ma Bell 2.0

    • seanp2k2 4 months ago

      As of 2016 this is a diagram showing what went where and how it's back together now: https://www.theverge.com/2016/10/24/13389592/att-time-warner...

      • vel0city 4 months ago

        >f you thought music streaming exclusives were bad, just wait until Comcast starts windowing SNL sketches to keep people on its pipes while AT&T only streams CNN to AT&T phones, while Verizon keeps wielding mobile access to NFL games like a club against the American consumer.

        Such an anti-consumer dystopia :( It is truly sad to see these markets devolve into such terribleness when there is so much possibility to be had with such incredible technology.

        • lotsofpulp 4 months ago

          I'm optimistic about it. The more onerous and costly it becomes, hopefully the more people will become disinterested with the mass produced garbage and start unplugging themselves.

        • craftyguy 4 months ago

          Wow, with this deal it's even more consolidated than before the breakup.

    • Rick-Butler 4 months ago

      not exactly the best example when you consider what their research arm bell labs gave us.

      Not saying that monopolies are good, it's just not black and white...

      • craftyguy 4 months ago

        Even a steaming pile of shit has one or two good qualities.

        • Rick-Butler 4 months ago

          A comment like this makes me think you really don't know much about Bell Labs.

          http://blog.tmcnet.com/next-generation-communications/2011/0...

          A lot of modern computing traces back to them and Xerox.

          • craftyguy 4 months ago

            I know about Bell Labs and their contributions. They were the one positive thing from Ma Bell, but there were a LOT of other bad things in Ma Bell that I'd rather not see come about again. I bet we can have a Bell Labs-like thing exist without all the other crap.

            • phlakaton 4 months ago

              I'd love to see it. Where is this fabled research giant that doesn't need a bunch of funding from a giant corporation?

              I mean, I guess you could look at DARPA or other government agencies as some sort of equivalent, but you're not exactly escaping controversy by getting your funding from the DoD...

              • lurquer 4 months ago

                Lucent. (Ugh... Rode that sucker down to $0)

  • paulcole 4 months ago

    > And this one has the inherent conflicts of interest you get when a distributor buys out a producer.

    I'm not sure I understand the conflicts. Isn't Netflix essentially doing the same thing? Consolidating production and distribution?

    • paidleaf 4 months ago

      Netflix isn't your ISP. Netflix doesn't control the means of delivery/distribution. They rely on Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc to deliver their data.

      Netflix can't just decide that they don't want to compete with Hulu and therefore throttle or block Hulu from their customers.

      We know that controlling the means of production and the means of distribution is highly anti-competitive. All you have to do is look at rockefeller and standard oil in the 1800s. Rockefeller bought or threatened his way into controlling the railroads which allowed him to put most of his competitors out of business or forced them to sell to Standard Oil. Controlling the means of delivery allowed rockefeller to monopolize the oil industry in the US.

      With the repeal of net neutrality, we are getting to the point where verizon, comcast, at&t, etc can be their own little "internet". And this really hampers future entrepreneurs. If you wanted to start a netflix, youtube or twitch today, but you can't rely on verizon, comcast, at&t, etc to give you fair access to their network, then why bother and who will invest in your company?

      But this is the overall direction of the internet and social media the past few years. Less freedom, less openness and a move towards more of a corporate tv/news format.

      • jimmy1 4 months ago

        > But this is the overall direction of the internet and social media the past few years. Less freedom, less openness and a move towards more of a corporate tv/news format.

        So when are we nerds getting together to make a new internet?

    • icebraining 4 months ago

      Yes, and there are conflicts of interest, as Netflix will push their own stuff over their competitors'. The major difference is that ISPs have a much stronger control of their distribution market, which they can use to gain an advantage on the production market (what's usually called "abuse of monopoly power").

    • jandrese 4 months ago

      Netflix is your ISP?

      • mattnewton 4 months ago

        I don’t think time warner is an isp anymore

        • jtgeibel 4 months ago

          But AT&T certainly is, as would be the combined company.

        • saghm 4 months ago

          Time Warner is definitely still an ISP where I live (NYC)

          EDIT: Never mind, I was unaware of the split between the cable and internet businesses. (I still agree with the sibling comments that this isn't hugely important given that AT&T is still an ISP)

        • s2g 4 months ago

          AT&T is a major telecom and provider of mobile internet access.

    • seanp2k2 4 months ago

      The difference is that I have one choice of ISP and many choices of over-the-top content, none of which can e.g. restrict my ability to access things unrelated to their service as an ISP can. It's apples v oranges.

    • jonreem 4 months ago

      Under this logic I think so, it would be the same problem.

ajonnav 4 months ago

> The judge indicated during the trial that he wasn’t buying Shapiro’s projection. After his testimony, Leon said he was "confused." Further explanation from Shapiro didn’t help. "I’m not sure I got it, but it’s too late and too hot to belabor the point any further," the judge said.

Amazing on so many different levels.

(Shapiro is the economist whose model the DOJ based their case off of).

  • jaredklewis 4 months ago

    Well let's not grab our pitchforks just yet.

    I'm sure if this was a thread discussing Judge Leon's 2013 opinion that NSA metadata collection violated the 4th amendment, HN would be singing his praises. But in this case he's approved a merger we don't like so he must be a total idiot or (as is being suggested further down in the thread) was bribed and has family members that will be getting board AT&T seats pretty soon. Such is HN's fickle heart.

    Unsurprisingly, the case involved more nuance than could be contained in a Bloomberg article, so if you really want to understand the arguments involved, you'll have to slog through the 200 page opinion: http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/sites/dcd/files/17-2511opinion.p...

    I'm generally depressed by the state of broadband competition in the US, but that doesn't automatically mean that Shapiro's "increased leverage harm" theory that vertical content-programmer-distributor integration will raise prices is correct. And even if it is intuitively correct or turns out to be right, it doesn't mean that we currently have sufficient supporting data for it to be a convincing argument to the courts.

    • mortdeus 4 months ago

      I should point out that this doesn't really change the broadband ISP landscape. Time Warner Cable is not apart of Time Warner anymore. All this does is give AT&T a better chance at entering the "original content" space and to take advantage of the fact that streaming providers like Youtube TV and Netflix would need to now pay AT&T for their content.

      Honestly I don't think this is all that bad of a move. I'd rather AT&T absorb Time Warner than Comcast.

      • ajmurmann 4 months ago

        It's catastrophic. Companies should be allowed to either own the pipe or what flows through the pipe. Any attempts to own both need to be stopped and punished. The pipes must remain neutral so that small competitors can come up and disrupt and slay the big players once they get moribund.

        • jaredklewis 4 months ago

          > It's catastrophic. Companies should be allowed to either own the pipe or what flows through the pipe. Any attempts to own both need to be stopped and punished.

          Not producing content doesn't magically make an ISP a neutral provider and I don't see how vertical integration (owning the pipe and some of what's going through it) gives ISPs more leverage than they already have.

          For example, take an ISP that is just the pipe with no content production arm. That ISP could charge premiums to content providers to be put in a "fast lane" and then slow down the content of everyone else. This would be to the advantage of big players at the expense of small competitors, just like you say, and doesn't involve vertical integration in any way. AT&T doesn't need Time Warner to do this.

          What's catastrophic is that we don't have net neutrality. There are plenty of good arguments against this merger, but preventing vertical integration doesn't get us any closer to net neutrality.

          • skywhopper 4 months ago

            Not having a direct interest doesn’t guarantee they are neutral, true. That’s what net neutrality rules are for. But giving them interest in the content guarantees they _arent_ neutral, and will always have conflicting interests, regardless of regulation.

            • jaredklewis 4 months ago

              If there was regulation, it doesn’t matter if they have a conflict of interest, because it would be illegal to prefer their own traffic.

              If there is no regulation, AT&T has the exact same incentive to abuse their market position to make more money whether or not they own Time Warner. Whether they own Time Warner or not, they can make more money by being a non-neutral provider. Will they suddenly have a greater interest in money after they acquire Time Warner?

              • simplify 4 months ago

                Yes, because there will be more money to make?

        • tracker1 4 months ago

          This is how I feel about Sony being both a media company, and a technology company. (BluRay, etc).

        • rayiner 4 months ago

          The same is true for Google and Apple, who make hardware, the operating system running on the hardware, the software running on the operating system, and the app store on which the software is sold. They compete directly with the software makers on their platform. (And the market concentration in the mobile OS space is even higher than with ISPs. There is basically no choice left but iOS and Android.) Yet, the results in the mobile space have not been "catastrophic."

      • jedberg 4 months ago

        AT&T owns DirecTV and has a strong incentive to make it very expensive to stream things that aren't from DirectTV and very cheap to stream things that are.

    • s2g 4 months ago

      We can still pull out the pitchforks based on the notion that he didn't understand the "expert" opinion presented and just decided not bother?

      • jaredklewis 4 months ago

        I didn't find the exchange particularly extraordinary. The judge is expressing his opinion that he doesn't buy what Shapiro is selling. The judge will have already studied Shapiro's written arguments before the trial. During the oral arguments, the judge has a chance to clarify things from the written arguments. I haven't read the full transcript, but I imagine Leon didn't feel fully convinced by the written arguments, asked Shapiro to address some of his concerns, continued to feel unsatisfied and decided to move on. That's how it goes sometimes. Time is not unlimited and there are always too many things to cover.

        At the very least, Shapiro's argument is complicated and novel (it has never been used as a part of an anti-trust case before). Tellingly, the Bloomberg article doesn't not even attempt to explain or summarize the economic theory. It's not like Leon is pigheadedly refusing to accept some widely accepted, basic economic principle.

        If we are going to criticize the ruling, let's do so by discussing the substance of the judge's opinion, not courtroom banter.

      • blind_boy_grunt 4 months ago

        Oral argument is usually just for clarifications/questions over the written briefs. Judge Leon likely later read the written briefs on his own time (that is his job, after all).

  • AlexCoventry 4 months ago

    How is it that the executive branch is acting in a more principled and competent manner than the judicial, in this case?

    I suppose it could be good for the economy and general welfare of the nation that the price of good TV will go up, if it means people will be watching less of it.

    • monochromatic 4 months ago

      Which parts of the 200-page opinion did you find unprincipled or incompetent?

      • AlexCoventry 4 months ago

        Decisions aren't assessed by page count. The comment I was responding to shows that the decision was based on an incomplete understanding of the complaint.

  • _rpd 4 months ago

    Absolutely shameful. AI judges can't come soon enough.

    • SrslyJosh 4 months ago

      Where do you think the training data for AI judges would come from?

      • vokep 4 months ago

        evaluations of historical judgements made and what the consequences were.

        How to define good/bad consequences becomes the problem then, but thats the nature of it.

        • sigfubar 4 months ago

          Such evaluations are useless as a training set because they inherit the biases of whoever wrote the evaluations. Of course, if fairness isn’t a desired property, feel free to carry on.

        • 103e 4 months ago

          It's AI judges, all the way down.

    • peterwwillis 4 months ago

      I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords.

    • ReverseCold 4 months ago

      And who gets to decide what training data/processes the judges use?

      • seanp2k2 4 months ago

        AI Training Specialists who are appointed by the party in power, of course! So different!

    • coderdude 4 months ago

      This is the HN quote of the century

xeromal 4 months ago

FYI, this isn't the internet Time Warner. This is the entertainment Time Warner. The internet Time Warner is run by Spectrum these days.

  • djsumdog 4 months ago

    Does that really matter? Just because it isn't becoming an Internet monopoly, it's still a content+distribution mega-corp that can squeeze its competitors and limit options for consumers.

    • EpicEng 4 months ago

      It matters when ~50% of the comments are talking about net neutrality and Time Warner Cable hasn't existed for more than two years.

      • rosser 4 months ago

        It also seems to matter as a diversionary tactic, employed to curtail discussion of the dearth of meaningful competition in broadband.

        And it ignores that TWC was acquired by another ISP, meaning that sale, whenever it happened, also curtailed broadband competition.

        On top of all that, with the end of NN, AT&T can preferentially shove TWX content in your face, and force you to pay extra to consume someone else's.

        That is absolutely relevant, and it's disingenuous, at best, to suggest otherwise.

        • windows_tips 4 months ago

          Is there actually a market for things like CNN? It seems that CNN being shoved in your face is kind of its thing.

          • rosser 4 months ago

            I mean as opposed to, say, Netflix or Hulu.

            AT&T can, under the present legal regime, perfectly legitimately say, "Here's all this 'free' content for you. You'll have to subscribe to the 'Not Our Content' package to access those other services..."

            But, sure. Let's run with your example: imagine you had an ISP who let you read Fox News for free, but charged you to visit CNN.

            • windows_tips 4 months ago

              Is this the HN position, AT&T: charge us for your content ?

            • mortdeus 4 months ago

              What if they fired everybody at CNN!? :D <3

        • xienze 4 months ago

          > On top of all that, with the end of NN, AT&T can preferentially shove TWX content in your face, and force you to pay extra to consume someone else's.

          Will they though? I don’t recall such a thing happening prior to NN. It always seems that people’s fantasies about what can happen without NN are worse than what will (or did).

          • rosser 4 months ago

            Remember when AT&T blocked FaceTime because it competed with their own product?

            I do.

            • scarface74 4 months ago

              AT&T blocked FaceTime because they were afraid that thier crappy overburdened network couldn’t handle the load. [1]

              But for some reason, they weren’t worried about other video chatting apps - for instance you could use Yahoo Messenger at the time. What competing app did AT&T have?

              [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-tech/post/atandt-l...

      • s2g 4 months ago

        This is a major net neutrality issue.

        AT&T can now say all of time warner's content is free for mobile devices. Major blow to their competitors.

        • LateRuin 4 months ago

          Sounds pro-consumer to me. Whats the big deal? It will just force the other providers to up their game and offer their own freebies.

          • icebraining 4 months ago

            Great if you like the provider's content. Quite bad if you like any content not owned by one of the few Internet providers, who can't offer such freebies.

            • LateRuin 4 months ago

              Everyone agrees we are moving towards a world of platforms. Each big platform holder will buy or ally with an isp and smaller content owners will pay 30% rev to use those platforms, just like today with google play store, app store, steam (for games), etc. thats reality, why be a luddite about it?

        • Spivak 4 months ago

          Since ATT has to eat the costs of providing this service I don't see how it's necessarily a problem.

        • scarface74 4 months ago

          They are already doing that with DirecTVNow.

    • Spivak 4 months ago

      Monopolies on content don't really matter because media properties aren't fungible. It's not like you can shop around for the best Avengers movie or that Justice League is a substitute.

      I agree with you about distribution but it's hard to argue that there aren't lots of competing distribution channels for content.

traek 4 months ago

NB this is "Time Warner the media company", not Time Warner Cable (which is now Spectrum.) This isn't broadband consolidation but rather media/entertainment consolidation.

The deal is most closely comparable to Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011.

  • walshemj 4 months ago

    Which is what a lot of ex telecoms monopolies are doing as they cant really grow organically anymore another example is BT sport funny how Murdoch's press started bashing BT after they started competing with Sky

niftich 4 months ago

The acquisition target is 'Time Warner Inc.', primarily a television and film company, whose products and subvisions include HBO and Cinemax, the TV networks CNN, TBS, Turner Classic Movies, TNT, and various joint ventures with US sports leagues, and Warner Bros, which now includes DC Comics/DC Entertainment. Meanwhile, AT&T is largely a telecom and satellite broadcast company, which under its various subsidiaries offers bulk telecom interconnect, and satellite television, and is a wired and wireless ISP.

Therefore, this sounds more like vertical integration of an infrastructure-and-ISP company buying a media company in much the same vein as Comcast acquiring full ownership of NBCUniversal in 2013, or Verizon acquiring AOL -- which in 2001 bought Time Warner, then AOL got spun out in 2009 -- and Yahoo.

  • xigency 4 months ago

    The part that bothers me about each of those acquisitions is that none of those utility companies are well-liked by their customers (instead being the most hated companies). The fact that they all have the ability to acquire these other large entities which aren't reviled shows that they really are scalping their customers. And it isn't just Comcast or AT&T or Verizon, it's all of them. That is highly irregular for them to all be so despised and successful.

    • grigjd3 4 months ago

      What do you mean highly irregular? They all have regional monopolies. Of course they have crap service and high prices.

rayiner 4 months ago

Cognitive dissonance is interesting. For example, tech folks generally love Japan and Hong Kong's railroads. But those systems work so well because of the exact sort of vertical integration techies get apoplectic about when it comes to the Internet: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-inf.... JR and MTR not only are private companies that own and operate the railroads, they own a ton of the land around the rail stations. They thus can capture value from both sides of a two-sided market--the customers going to a business near a rail station, and the business that benefits from having a rail station near it. That greatly increases incentive to invest in rail compared to a system where value can only be captured from the rider.

Interestingly, vertical integration also increases competition, as is the case in urban areas of Japan. If you can leverage your low-margin transit product to sell your high-margin real estate product, you have vastly more incentive to compete with other firms on the transit product.

Indeed, the vastly lower deployment costs enabled by 5G suggest an alternative vision of the future. We may end up with a system where you subscribe to "Google 5G" or "Facebook 5G" or even "Netflix 5G" service. It will be abhorrent to those who visualize a platonic model of infrastructure separated from content, but may in practice work a lot better than heavy government involvement in the infrastructure layer.

  • isolli 4 months ago

    I think the analogy does not hold. The reason these railroads are so well developed is because they lead to land the operator owns. If I apply the analogy, ISPs will develop infrastructure only if it leads to content they own. In other words, they have a strong incentive to throttle access to others' content, which is not an option available to railroad operators.

  • njarboe 4 months ago

    Lots of trolly transportation systems were built in the US with the same model. Build a line out to the cheep farmland you own near a city/town, charge low fairs (not nearly enough to cover your capital costs and running costs), but now you can sell lots for housing at 10x or 20x the price you bought the land for. Once all the lots are sold, having the trolly pay for itself is difficult, especially after people can buy cars(hello model T) and not pay your monopoly trolly ride price. Almost all those trolly lines were shut down.

    • rayiner 4 months ago

      That's more an issue of trollies becoming obsolete--government-run trolly lines or purely private ones that did not own the surrounding land also did not survive.

    • dionidium 4 months ago

      That's a pretty simplistic conclusion that ignores one of the biggest technological and cultural life-altering inventions in human history: the automobile.

      • njarboe 4 months ago

        "Once all the lots are sold, having the trolly pay for itself is difficult, especially after people can buy cars"?

erric 4 months ago

>Judge Leon limited how DOJ lawyers questioned certain witnesses and expressed visible skepticism of testimony by the government’s chief economic witness, who presented an empirical model that predicted the deal would lead to small but significant price increases in monthly cable bills. AT&T countered with its own academic economist who said it wouldn’t.

Yeah, I’m sure this won’t lead to _small_ price increases for consumers.

gzu 4 months ago

It’s crazy to me how one judge gets to decide the fate of a 100 billion dollar merger. Humans are fallible.

  • forapurpose 4 months ago

    Judges are subject to many checks on their power. First, they only can rule on cases brought before their court, which requires two other parties to want a trial (including, in this case, the Justice Department). Also, unless they are in the Supreme Court, judges generally do not choose which cases they hear. Finally, and most significantly, they also are restricted by laws made by the legislature, precedent made by other judges and higher courts, the facts, juries (if the litigants wish to use them), principles of law, and appeals.

  • aurailious 4 months ago

    Well, the judge has to base the decision on a whole bunch of laws. It's not like judges get to decide this on their own.

    • xenihn 4 months ago

      >Well, the judge has to base the decision on a whole bunch of laws. It's not like judges get to decide this on their own.

      This is a weird opinion to hold when you take the fact that two judges can come to two completely separate conclusions on a single issue, while drawing from the same laws.

      • blind_boy_grunt 4 months ago

        Judging is the act of applying law (general) to a particular case (specific). Since laws can't anticipate every future situation at their time of writing, no matter what there will _always_ be some disconnect between these two -- i.e. vagueness/generality in law, leading to edge cases.

        Which is why two judges can come to two completely separate conclusions on a single issue, while drawing from the same laws, based on their own personal methods of interpretation and biases.

        • mortdeus 4 months ago

          Judges in the lower circuits are also held accountable to higher circuit judges if they don't interpret the law while taking past case judgement into consideration.

          A lower district judge can't overrule a higher judge's opinions.

    • hermitdev 4 months ago

      Except when they do. Activist judges & judicial legislation [0] are not a new thing.

      [0] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/judicial%20legisl...

      • forapurpose 4 months ago

        'Activist judge' is indeed a term in the English language, but what does it have to do with this case? There are 'drunk airplane pilots', but does that make the pilot of the plane I'm going to board a suspect?

        • komali2 4 months ago

          I think of it in an engineery sense - if the edge case is possible, it will happen.

          Maybe that works for software engineering, where it's a good idea to pause a release in case someone uses scripts to send a shitload of bad requests to our API and crashes a server because of our bug or whatever, but I understand that that doesn't work 1:1 with the real world, where it doesn't make sense to not have the aviation industry until we perfect self-flying planes.

          • bmelton 4 months ago

            > if the edge case is possible, it will happen

            By that argument, you will:

            * beat your wife

            * murder an enemy

            * shoot up a school full of children

            * commit arson

            * jump bail

            * evade arrest

            * die in a hail of bullets

            So, assuming all those eventualities, why shouldn't we just put you to death now?

            To spare you the rhetorical exercise, the answer is because we don't punish you for the things you might do, but only punish you for a) the things that you have done, b) that we can prove, c) beyond a reasonable doubt, d) in a court of law, e) before a jury of your peers.

            • grasshopperpurp 4 months ago

              No, not at all. This is closer to what the parent was saying

              By that argument, someone will:

              * beat his wife - true

              * murder an enemy - true

              * shoot up a school full of children - true

              * commit arson - true

              * jump bail - true

              * evade arrest - true

              * die in a hail of bullets - true

              You see, all these things do happen. The parent is not arguing that because something is possible any one individual will do it. You're arguing a very different thing.

            • dEnigma 4 months ago

              I think we're getting a little sidetracked here. What the grandparent wanted to say was just that the corset of laws that binds a judge might not be as tight as you think; hence e.g. activist judges.

              • bmelton 4 months ago

                I think my point stands, which is that not every possibility is an eventuality, and we shouldn't assume that to be true without a willingness to accept a very bad panoply of preventative measures masquerading as corrective measures.

                That said, whether or not an activist judge allows a presumptively lawful merger to occur is hardly a hill worth dying on. We have remedies for activist judges through an appeal process. Where an appeals process is not available after the merger, we have remedy for anti-competitive companies through regulatory influence, regulatory agency, rule of law, and a court system to back that up.

    • kuraudo 4 months ago

      In a perfect world, what you said would be how things are actually decided.

  • atmosx 4 months ago

    Are you proposing to use AI (or what we call AI nowadays) instead? :-)

    • 1137 4 months ago

      // super advanced AI for court decision

      while (defendant.getSumOfContrib(partyInCharge)<= Gov.Judicial.Common.RULE_FAVOR_MINIMUM) {

         delay();
      
      
      }
    • TillE 4 months ago

      I think it would not necessarily be insane to envision a system which hands off non-obvious regulatory cases to the legislature, to amend the law such that this and future cases could be trivially decided.

      • atmosx 4 months ago

        Only an engineer could entertain this idea.

  • oh_sigh 4 months ago

    And the judge didn't even fully understand the arguments of the DOJ, and claimed it was too hot and too late to try to understand them.

fomopop 4 months ago

For those who cut the cord, some things that may come out of this:

1. AT&T announced they were launching an entertainment only live streaming service for $15 (or free to AT&T subscribers) which will compete with Philo.

2. They will continue to give away free or cheap HBO to AT&T or DIRECTV NOW customers

3. Comcast will more aggressively bid for FOX which means either Disney or Comcast will become the majority stakeholder for Hulu

https://medium.com/fomopop/what-at-t-time-warner-deal-means-...

  • sjs382 4 months ago

    HBO is currently $5/mo for DirecTV Now customers, which is well below the regular price. Also FWIW, it was free for the first year to early subscribers of DirecTV Now.

    • fomopop 4 months ago

      It's also free for AT&T Unlimited subscribers.

walru 4 months ago

>to lead the next generation in innovation.

Meanwhile I have 300k internet in Pasadena, CA. That's the fastest they offer. My roommate doesn't care and won't upgrade to Spectrum.

Why is it whenever I read the above it means the opposite?

  • JAFTEM 4 months ago

    Also have bad internet in LA. I grew up in North Dakota though, and back there my family is getting 1 gigabit internet for $100/mo from Midcontinent.

    Absolutely bizarre and ridiculous that North Dakota, a state that has far less developed infrastructure than either coast, has better internet than Los Angeles.

    • rayiner 4 months ago

      Is it? I’ve got two fiber lines into my house in a Maryland county where most people are on septic and well. Unsurprisingly, Big California cities have Big California impediments to broadband deployment.

      • kristopolous 4 months ago

        The biggest impediment is corrupt corporate capital not investing in their infrastructure. Some have taken government subsidies and threw elaborate parties and went on luxury cruises while not building anything. There's court cases about it, such as https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20151022/09232532594/fcc-h...

        The companies take that money and do things like buy multi-billion dollar companies with it instead.

        The market in this sense is free from competition, free to block municipal broadband (illegal in 20 states), free from the consequences of providing terrible service, free from the risk of losing customers, and free from the social obligations of providing a civic service.

        It's classic profiteering, capital extraction, dodging responsibility, and engineering the marketplace that leads to California's and the US's subpar system.

        And it stays that way because hoards of people either apologize for it or just refuse to see what it is regardless of the evidence, because they have a larger commitment to their ideas of how things are supposed to be then there reality of how things actually are.

        Until people break their mythical love affair with the idea that there is no sustained abuse or corruption in a manufactured free market, we will forever be shackled by reading to address its glaring and obvious issues.

        • rayiner 4 months ago

          > The biggest impediment is corrupt corporate capital not investing in their infrastructure.

          This is easily disprovable. Broadband providers invest tens of billions a year in infrastructure. The fastest cable or wireless connection available to you is probably 10x faster than it was a decade ago. By comparison, your Intel laptop is maybe 3-4 times faster, maybe less. That cost gobs of money--building cell towers, pushing fiber deeper into the cable network, reducing users per HFC node by a factor of 10, etc. This is all incredibly labor intensive and expensive; it's not just a matter of downloading "DOCSIS 3.1" onto some head ends and calling it a day.

          > Some have taken government subsidies and threw elaborate parties and went on luxury cruises while not building anything.

          Note also that the "government subsidies" are anything but. The article you link to is talking about Universal Service Fund money, which is actually taken from ISPs and given to other ISPs. It doesn't come out of general tax dollars.

          > leads to California's and the US's subpar system.

          According to Akamai, U.S. broadband is among the fastest in the world, faster than all the large EU countries: https://www.akamai.com/fr/fr/multimedia/documents/state-of-t.... We're in the top 10, right after Denmark, and ahead of the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc. (the countries comprising 70% of the EU population).

          > And it stays that way because hoards of people either apologize for it or just refuse to see what it is regardless of the evidence

          Exactly the opposite is true. The actual evidence shows that the 1996 deregulation has been a monumental success in terms of amount of money invested and actual broadband speeds achieved. Proponents of heavy regulation have to deny the actual evidence (dollars spent, speeds achieved) because it suggests a shocking result: even deregulation that resulted in much less competition than anticipated is still better than the prior, heavily-regulated system. (I'm writing this as my awesome government-funded train system is stuck between Annapolis and D.C. for no apparent reason.)

          What's holding us back from being even better (and which is why I have fiber but much of Silicon Valley does not) is state & local broadband regulation. Red tape that makes it hard to string up fiber (or forces you to bury it, at much higher cost), hard to create an "minimal viable ISP," etc. When I lived in Baltimore, for example, Verizon wanted to come in and compete with Comcast. The city literally wouldn't let them do it, and pleaded with Google to come build Fiber instead. Which Google wouldn't do, because, quite reasonably, Google only builds Fiber in places where cities are willing to waive requirements municipalities uniformly require for other providers: https://crosscut.com/2014/12/google-fiber-never-come-seattle....

          • kristopolous 4 months ago

            There's a lot here. Thanks for responding. I'll hopefully have the time to read that document and get back to you later.

      • unclebucknasty 4 months ago

        >Big California cities have Big California impediments to broadband deployment.

        What have they done, relative to other cities, to impede broadband deployment?

        • rayiner 4 months ago
          • unclebucknasty 4 months ago

            Your example is a 2011 instance of a citizen's group in a single CA city opposing AT&T's indiscriminate installation of unsightly 4-6 foot boxes on sidewalks and other public property? The group asked that they instead be installed on private property or underground.

            And it's an issue that was also raised in other non-California cities, including places like NC, CT, IL, DC, etc. See your article, links from it, and [0].

            Come on man, you know this does not support your initial assertion.

            [0] http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Comcast-Takes-Heat-for-Hu...

            • rayiner 4 months ago

              The SF battle was particularly protracted and terrible. But the point about "unsightly" boxes gets to the heart of the problem. Burying this infrastructure costs money, and tanks the economics of fiber deployment. If you don't believe that coming from "big evil AT&T," just look at Google: they categorically refused to build Fiber to cities that imposed those sorts of requirements: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/how-kansas-city-....

              Places like Louisville and Kansas City got Fiber and San Francisco or LA didn't because: 1) they didn't impose build out requirements (the obligation to pass all households regardless of neighborhood demand); 2) they didn't require burying utilities; 3) they fast-tracked permitting processes; 4) they permitted hanging rather than burying the fiber; and 5) they made space available for Fiber huts.

              • unclebucknasty 4 months ago

                >But the point about "unsightly" boxes gets to the heart of the problem

                The issue is hardly unique to "Big California cities" though, is it? Many localities across the country, including those I cited, have taken similar exception to fiber huts, "lawn refrigerators" and similar infrastructure components; so much so, that it's cliche by now. And, at it's core, it's the same old issue that has manifested in different ways since the phrase "property values" came into existence: everyone wants cell service, but no one wants a cell tower in their backyard.

                You citing examples of cities that took a different approach is just the good-ol' association fallacy at its best. "Why, these places aren't California and look at what they did!"

                But, it's funny that you mentioned Louisville and build-out requirements. Rather than imposing requirements, the city itself had a plan to expand fiber in an extremely cost-effective way (a third of the usual cost) and in a manner that would serve even lower income neighborhoods. Then, in stepped "tax-payer advocates" backed by the Koch brothers to block the plan, supposedly to protect taxpayers from such tyranny. [0]

                The point is that broadband expansion has been an overwrought, complex fight that has impacted various municipalities across the country in different ways. Thus, it's disingenuous to suggest that broadband expansion challenges can be summed up as "Big California cities" and their "Big California impediments". In fact, it's so intellectually dishonest that it leaves a whiff of ideologizing lingering in the air.

                [0] https://www.wired.com/story/koch-brothers-are-cities-new-obs...

      • AboutTheWhisles 4 months ago

        > Big California cities have Big California impediments to broadband deployment

        What is that exactly?

        "First released in October 2013, and updated several times since, the DOCSIS 3.1 suite of specifications support capacities of up to 10 Gbit/s downstream and 1 Gbit/s upstream"

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOCSIS

      • paul7986 4 months ago

        You in Westminister, MD or Howard county?

        • rayiner 4 months ago

          Anne Arundel. Comcast offers gigabit pro here.

          • paul7986 4 months ago

            Ah sure that and FIOS which is true fiber ...though for me 50Mbps is fine for streaming video.. not a gamer, running a business or mining BT.

            • rayiner 4 months ago

              Both are fiber (gigabit pro is a 10-gig metro-e connection rate-limited to 2-gig at the switch). It's ironically easier to get it out here than in many places, because the county is easy-going about permitting and all the utilities are overhead.

              • paul7986 4 months ago

                Yeah I have both FIOs and Comcast available to me in Harford County. Have the former now.

    • BigChiefSmokem 4 months ago

      I'm in LA and I pay Spectrum $54 a month for 100mb and saw that their gigabit service is $104 a month for new subscribers.

      • scarface74 4 months ago

        What's the upstream? Comcast offers 1 gigabit down but only 35Mbps up.

        AT&T offers gigabit up and down for $70 a month. I usually get at least 900Mbps up and down.

  • jonknee 4 months ago

    What does that have to do with AT&T buying HBO, some cable channels and a movie studio? This is to compete with Netflix, not about providing broadband.

    • ajmurmann 4 months ago

      AT&T is supposed to provide a conduit between their customers and Netflix not compete with them! It's already catastrophic that ISPs have a monopoly in many markets, using that monopoly to compete with content providers leaves me furious.

      Edit: calming myself.

  • rconti 4 months ago

    I'm not sure what your point is. You have the option to buy faster internet (competition) but you choose not to?

  • tanderson92 4 months ago

    It's especially funny because Caltech students living on or near campus have 1Gbps internet. :-)

  • amelius 4 months ago

    They will increase your internet speed if that means they can sell you more entertainment now.

  • LyndsySimon 4 months ago

    I live in rural Arkansas, and have 300Mbps.

    I’m promised gigabit this summer, but we’ll see.

  • ddtaylor 4 months ago

    How much AT&T Time Warner stock does your roomate own?!

    • walru 4 months ago

      None. He's a luddite.

c3534l 4 months ago

The courts seem to be letting telecoms consolidate to a degree that is unprecedented (Bell, at least, had a fairly narrow scope), because they think the internet means these companies have competition. I think they're severely under-estimating the power these companies have and the risk that these mergers create to both consumers and our democracy.

  • kuraudo 4 months ago

    That or they don't care. I'd be very interested to know what kind of positions the friends & families of these judges hold related to the mergers they approve.

amelius 4 months ago

Can't we have a system where the bigger the merger, the more compelling the arguments for it should be?

Like a $10M merger should have 1 strong argument in favor of the consumer, a $100M merger should have 2 strong arguments, and a $100B merger should have 5 strong arguments in favor of the consumer (and I'm being forgiving by using a logarithmic scale here).

  • ReverseCold 4 months ago

    Hot take: An $X m merger should never go through.

    (I haven't thought about the downsides, but I can't see anything obvious?)

    • chopin 4 months ago

      It could be split up into several mergers below $X.

      • ReverseCold 4 months ago

        I'd assume there would be a rule to prevent structuring

mikece 4 months ago

This is a distribution company -- internet, cable TV, satellite -- acquiring a content company (the communications portion of Time Warner was spun off as Spectrum). Isn't this just a vertical integration?

  • gimmeThaBeet 4 months ago

    Definitely. There are a lot of valid debates you can have about whether or not this is a good thing, but it's very arguably the 'correct' decision in the sense of precedent, and as you are implying, the less surprising one.

  • SippinLean 4 months ago

    Time Warner's cable business was spun off as Time Warner Cable, which Charter Communications later acquired. Charter's cable/internet/tv brand is Spectrum.

    • mikece 4 months ago

      You are right -- I stand corrected.

jadedhacker 4 months ago

Media consolidation infographic from 2011. Back then, six companies controlled 90% of the market. I wonder where we're at now?

http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-...

  • mxschumacher 4 months ago

    through the rise of original content production from Amazon and Netflix and the overall shift to internet delivery (including Youtube and Podcasts) I'd argue we're in a less concentrated situation today.

    • jadedhacker 4 months ago

      Yes and no. I agree 100% for podcasts. However, while Youtube and Netflix are encouraging more producers they retain veto power on their platforms. This is key.

      In the case of Netflix, it's obvious they only host what they want on their platform. In the case of Youtube, they are increasingly banning videos.

      This isn't my particular hobbyhorse issue, but it was the first result for "youtube ban political videos" and it has a huge constituency.

      "Youtube to Ban Videos Promoting Gun Sales"

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/business/youtube-gun-ban....

      VICE Motherboard chronicles Youtube's history of escalating censorship.

      https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/59jgka/a-brief-hi...

      On a decentralized platform (i.e. the real web) this would be impossible or nearly so.

      You might disagree with or laugh at the people losing money or literally being censored on one of the biggest public squares in the world, but it's not democratic and media consolidation will never ever result in something compatible with the free and open exchange of ideas.

  • basch 4 months ago

    This 90% is absurd. What about:

    ATT - DirecTV, Time Warner (WB, Turner, HBO)

    Verizon - Yahoo, AOL

    Comcast - XFinity, NBCUniversal

    Disney - 21st Century Fox?

    Sony - Pictures, Television, Music/Publishing

    Netflix

    Amazon

    Google/Youtube

    Facebook

    Microsoft

    National Amusements (CBS/Viacom(Paramount))

    Fox Broadcasting/Fox Sports

    Sinclair Broadcast Group/Tribune Company?

    Vivendi - Canal+, Universal Music Group

    Bertelsmann - Random House, Penguin, RTL, BMG

    Lionsgate

    Crown Castle - Hallmark

    Discovery - Scripps Interactive, TLC, Animal Planet, US Networks

    AMC Networks

    Kobalt

    Warner Music Group - Warner/Chappell

    News Corp

    Tronc

    Time inc

    Hearst Corporation

    Gannett

    Advanced Publications

    Meredith Corp

    HarperCollins

    New York Times Company

    Wenner Media

    Getty

    Gray

    Nexstar

    Tegna

    iHeartMedia (ClearChannel)

    AMC Theaters

    Madison Square Garden

    Regal

    Cinemark

    MindGeek

    Televisa

    Univision Communications

    Sprint/T-Mobile?

    Charter Communications (Bright House Networks, Spectrum Internet formerly Time Warner Cable)

    Dish

    Cox

    Altice USA (Optimum Online, Suddenlink Communications)

    CenturyLink

    Frontier

vpribish 4 months ago

Got some sharp legal minds at work in this discussion. Really digging into the relevant parts of vertical vs horizontal anti-trust enforcement in a free market for media and a regulated one for content delivery. I especially love the nuanced extrapolation into healthcare and social media. Super work, just super.

etaioinshrdlu 4 months ago

Why does the date on the article say 2016?

rjurney 4 months ago

Great. More and bigger monopolies forming in networks/media.

sureaboutthis 4 months ago

Anything related to ATT is doomed. I've dealt with that company both professionally and personally and it's a mess. How it's managed to get this big and survive is beyond me. Their services are horrible, expensive, and you spend more time fixing their billing errors and getting a rep on the phone than you do anything else.

It's a sad day for the modern age.

roflc0ptic 4 months ago

In the context of net neutrality ending, this looks like AT&T acquiring the means to exploit discriminatory traffic routing. It seems like there will be a gold rush of sorts, towards building walled gardens, segmenting the Internet into fiefs.

Does ending NN allow an ISP to completely block a website? I.e. to what extent does this also open up the door to overt political censorship?

  • jhall1468 4 months ago

    Time Warner the ISP was bought years ago. This is Time Warner the entertainment company.

    • tacomonstrous 4 months ago

      AT&T is an ISP. They also own DirecTV, and now CNN and associated media entities.

      • jhall1468 4 months ago

        I'm well aware. My point was that people were talking about the issue like it was Time Warner the ISP. It isn't.

  • droopybuns 4 months ago

    There are two examples of websites being blocked that I can point to, none involving ISPs:

    1) Google blocking Microsoft and Amazon devices from accessing YouTube content.

    2) FBI takeovers of DNS entries to web servers or TOR nodes.

    And if political censorship is your biggest concern, should youtube be held accountable for blocking firearms content on their site?

    Where are the examples of ISPs blocking web pages? Throttling != blocking. Bandwidth is not infinite.

    Edit: If facts are inconvenient, that downvote button provides a nutritional burst of serotonin.

zanny 4 months ago

Perfect time to rename the company to "usher in a new era of innovation". How about calling the new AT&T Bell? Because this merged company will be way worse an anticompetitive monopoly than the exploitative operator of the US switched phone network ever could have been.

ksk 4 months ago

It seems like every commercial actor wants to be the platform (add "value" as an integrator/provider), and avoid being abstracted out under the platform.

"Internet is just a dumb pipe" "Why dont all PCs ship with just a vanilla Windows install" OR "Why don't all smartphones just install vanilla Android" "The programmer is irrelevant" "The OS is irrelevant" "The browser used is irrelevant" "Cable providers are irrelevant"

etc.. etc

Waterluvian 4 months ago

Neither of these companies really affects me as a non-American. But it feels like it just paves the way for mergers of companies that do.

I started thinking of international examples, which got me thinking about Google and Apple. Who in a way feel like they're post-colossal-merger companies already. And I mean... It kind of sucks but it's not nearly as awful as I feared it might look like.

circa 4 months ago

The only good that can come of this all is that the Time Warner name will finally go away. (yes i know this is the media company vs. the cable company but this is the end of it!) the rest of the deal, is not so great.

edit: not vs.* but 2 different entities with similar names.

Bucephalus355 4 months ago

I want to give an unconventional view that supports this decision.

The two companies merging are walking into a trap.

Their size makes them an attractive target for nationalization. ATT started off as a private company. It’s size however lead to it being effectively taken over by the government. The resulting monopoly came to employ 1 million people at its height. Adjusted for population growth, that’s be like the entirety of all the military branches today.

Before anyone mentions anything about automation though, let me say, there are plenty of jobs. If any of you have had the pleasure of a company giving you a secretary, you know that many jobs that have supposedly been automated, we are just doing without.

Also as cyber security becomes more of a concern, none of these jobs can be outsourced. Can you imagine whatever company builds our 5G network having their NOC in say Costa Rica (assuming world relations continue to deteriorate), or customer support outsourcing to the Philippines?

I know my views are wrong in some areas, but I hope they open a few new ways of viewing things.

  • s2g 4 months ago

    > Their size makes them an attractive target for nationalization

    Sure, except this is America.

  • ganoushoreilly 4 months ago

    "Also as cyber security becomes more of a concern, none of these jobs can be outsourced."

    I wish you were correct, but this doesn't actually seem to be the case. You have people outsourcing directly, or going with MSSP that are themselves outsourcing. I'd say a good 70% of the customers I deal with in the space are in this boat, most of which are in Financials and High Tech (engineering) spaces.

dv_dt 4 months ago

So is anyone actually trying to write legislation to bar ISPs from co-owning content creation companies? Is there a basis for this? Or is there some other type of anti-media/connectivity consolidation on the horizon even as a thought experiment?

a-dub 4 months ago

"we want the cca deal stopped now! we want the cca deal stopped now!"

meanwhile, didn't trump make a campaign promise to prevent this exact merger? interesting timing.

  • Sacho 4 months ago

    The plaintiff trying to block the merger is Trump's administration's DOJ.

DeepYogurt 4 months ago

Looking like AT&T needs to be broken up again.

nullbull 4 months ago

Anti-trust is truly dead. We're re-doing the gilded age everyone, strap in. This'll be great this time, we promise.

seymour333 4 months ago

"AT&T Cleared by Judge to Buy Time Warner, Judge Buys Boat"

oli5679 4 months ago

Does anyone have a link the the analysis done by Carl Shapiro?

sriku 4 months ago

Hot on the heels of FCC repealing net neutrality?

dschuler 4 months ago

It's interesting that the Trump administration was eager to block this deal (Trump has made statements in favor of preventing this merger), while enthusiastically repealing net neutrality. Maybe expecting consistency here is reading too much into the tea leaves.

At the same time, AT&T stock is down in after hours trading. Does this mean that investors believe this merger will be bad for AT&T, or at least for short-term profits?

Maybe tomorrow's reaction will be different as the entire market will weigh in on the decision.

  • makomk 4 months ago

    The fundamental philosophy at play here, I think - so far as there is one - is that government regulation cannot and should not be used to try and regulate away the negative effects of lack of competition, that instead it should ensure that a competitive marketplace exists and let the market take care of it.

    If I recall correctly, there's an explanation of this position from Ajit Pai's FCC, which in particular references the NBC Universal-Comcast merger and explains why the FCC no longer wishes to allow such mergers.

    • dschuler 4 months ago

      That makes sense. Thanks for the insight.

  • droopybuns 4 months ago

    This move makes AT&T the largest private debt holder in the United States.

    https://www.dallasnews.com/business/att/2017/06/30/can-att-k...

    It’s tough to be nimble with financial responsibility this large. It is not obvious to me that this is a good thing for the shareholders.

    It’s for this reason that I’d rather see us focus on incentives for local ISP competition rather than regulatory burdens designed to keep elephants this large in check. Net neutrality has to be powerful enough to curb AT&T’s legal teams. Scrappy local ISPs aren’t going to have the same resources for responding to regulatory requests. It entrenches the big players.

    • dschuler 4 months ago

      I was wondering about the debt involved to pull off this deal, thanks for the link.

trumped 4 months ago

Since the government already logs the content of all internet pipes, I think that they should nationalize all ISPs... it would be much cheaper.

jaequery 4 months ago

i wonder what this means for our privacy. could this somehow be a step toward national surveillance?

JustSomeNobody 4 months ago

Good grief. Why can't we stop all this consolidation already?

This is only good for shareholders. The cons clearly outweigh the pros for consumers.

shmerl 4 months ago

So, will anti-trust please bust this monster? And split Comcast along the way too (media from ISP), for good measure.

  • djsumdog 4 months ago

    No, this is the result of that failure. ATT/TW wanted to do this in 2016 as the other comments state. This was the approval.

    • shmerl 4 months ago

      Anti-trust is so royally messed up in US. It hurts the economy.

rosser 4 months ago

I'm so glad the end of Net Neutrality has ushered in an era of unprecedented competition in the broadband market.

EDIT: Yes, this acquisition is of the content division of Time Warner, not the ISP, which was previously acquired — by another broadband provider, mooting my general point how, again?

  • dv_dt 4 months ago

    As noted in other comments this is Time Warner the entertainment assets (not cable co). But it's equally bad at the end of Net Neutrality, as it gives AT&T direct motivation to interfere with competing services trying to offer entertainment over the internet to any customers who happen to get access via AT&T.

  • opencl 4 months ago

    This has nothing to do with the broadband market. Time Warner Cable was spun off from Time Warner in 2009 and subsequently bought up by Spectrum in 2016.

    • rosser 4 months ago

      It has plenty to do with the broadband market, if you happen to be an AT&T subscriber, and especially if they're your only choice. This, coupled with their no longer being restrained from the kinds of shenanigans that NN barred, positions them to force preferential choices on their subscribers and wring more money out of them for the privilege of accessing competing services.

      This is only good for people holding T and TWX, and probably not even most of them.

      • opencl 4 months ago

        I would certainly agree with that but your original comment was specifically about competition in the broadband market, which this deal has absolutely zero effect on and your post seemed to be based on the common misunderstanding of TWC still being part of TW.

        • rosser 4 months ago

          Sloppy and emotionally-driven phrasing on my part, sorry. I hope my edit and follow-up to yours have clarified my position.

      • Gibbon1 4 months ago

        That's one of my complaints when courts pretend to rule in favor of stock holders rights. In practice there is an inherent conflict of interest between management and the stockholders whose interests are diverse and barely represented.

    • gm-conspiracy 4 months ago

      Nobody wants to be "dumb pipes".

      • unclebucknasty 4 months ago

        Cable companies created regional monopolies with municipalities and used that protection to lay their lines. By the time the 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act rolled around, they'd established natural monopolies based on that infrastructure and they have benefitted from that ever since.

        They don't want to be "dumb pipes", but they also won't give access to those dumb pipes, ensuring that no one else can compete with them upstream. Seems they shouldn't be able to have it both ways, but here we are. So, the next-best-thing would be to assign protection through edicts like Net Neutrality and rigorous anti-trust policing.

        Yet, these are now being dismantled as well. Not a good place we're heading.

  • Confiks 4 months ago

    Another comment [1] indicated that "this isn't the internet Time Warner (...) this is the entertainment Time Warner".

    Is that correct? (I'm not familiar with the US broadband market)

    [1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17297966

    • wmf 4 months ago

      Time Warner Cable (the ISP) was already bought by Charter and renamed to Spectrum.

mortdeus 4 months ago

Maybe this will cause Trump to retaliate by bringing back net neutrality?

static_noise 4 months ago

Mergers like this are required to keep competition and the free market alive.

  • dang 4 months ago

    Could you please not post unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?

imbokodo 4 months ago

Lenin wrote about the inevitability of monopoly in 1916. He would not have been surprised that the 1911 break up of Standard Oil would be undone in 1999 with the ExxonMobil, nor the slow reconsolidation of the Baby Bells, nor the other monopolies bringing us back to the gilded age.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch0...

  • delbel 4 months ago

    Funny, at the same time he took money from the Warburg family to fund his revolution that killed millions, the Warburg family went on to be part ownership of Standard Oil during the same period.

staunch 4 months ago

Technology will help the citizenry destroy these evil megacorps. It's just a matter of time and some improvements in technology. The world where ABC/CBS/NBC/NYTimes/Time/etc could control what people think is over. In the near future we will have a much more educated populace. They will flex their power in ways that seem unimaginable now. When the information revolution finally arrives, these megacorps will be the first against the wall

  • ergothus 4 months ago

    Are you trying for irony? Given that this is just one of several recent cases where companies are locking down the technology that informs people - the technology you are counting on to take on these corps.

  • myrandomcomment 4 months ago

    The average IQ is 100 remember. :)

    Most people do not care. They happily give up all privacy to FB and Google. The funny thing is everyone was worried about the world turning into a version of 1984 and it looks like Brave New World and F451 was more on target.

  • allthenews 4 months ago

    You put too much faith into the average person's desire for education.

    Most people don't know and/or don't care.

    • awat 4 months ago

      This is sadly my experience too. Both my parents are educators and life long learners.

      It still floors me how many conversations they had with my younger siblings friends parents (I was present) were it more or less went. Friend parent makes baseless or incorrect assertion my history buff father retorted and they just said well I don’t care anyways.

efficax 4 months ago

This is nuts. This means there is now only one last-mile broadband provider in plenty of big markets. Milwaukee, for example, now no longer has any competition in the broadband space.

  • amyjess 4 months ago

    Despite the name, Time Warner doesn't own Time Warner Cable. They split years ago.

  • banachtarski 4 months ago

    What does this have to do with broadband