By Cecilia KangApril 19, 2018
WASHINGTON — AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, on Thursday attacked the Justice Department’s lawsuit to block its merger with Time Warner, saying that a combined company would be no different from the Silicon Valley giants that make and distribute video content.
As the last witness for the defense in the Justice Department’s legal battle against AT&T’s $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner, Mr. Stephenson portrayed the 140-year-old phone giant as being in an existential crisis and in need of the deal with Time Warner to compete against tech companies.
He called the blockbuster merger a “vision deal” that would allow AT&T to better match up against Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, which he referred to as “F.A.A.N.G.”
“The F.A.A.N.G. are all focused on premium video,” Mr. Stephenson said, comparing the proposed merger to the businesses of tech giants. “All of them are vertically integrated.”
The Justice Department sued to block the union of AT&T and Time Warner last November, saying it would hurt consumers who would likely see their monthly cable bills increase. The trial is being closely watched as a barometer of how the Trump Administration may treat mega-mergers, and for the implications of the case on antitrust policy and the entertainment landscape.
The trial is expected to wrap up in coming days after rebuttal arguments by the Justice Department and closing statements by both sides. Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who is presiding over the case, is expected to make a decision on the suit as early as the end of May…