While he has been in office, it has at times seemed strongly as though the positions put forward by President Donald Trump’s office, no matter how chaotic they may seem, really do have one thing in common. That apparent commonality is that they serve the personal interests of Donald Trump, who has hardly proven himself keen on following after patterns for presidential behavior laid down in the past.
Along those lines, the Trump administration came out against a proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, laying down guidelines to be followed before federal regulators would approve it that included the sale of CNN, which Trump has long made a nemesis out of. That merger has now been approved via a Tuesday ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon after the companies refused to abide by the government’s terms and the struggle ended up in court.
Really driving home the appearance of something political at play in the Trump administration’s opposition to the merger, so-called vertical mergers between two companies that generally don’t directly compete with one another aren’t generally thrown through the ringer by regulators. AT&T generally tends towards the distribution of content, while Time Warner makes it through such avenues as the aforementioned CNN. During the companies’ period of operating independently of one another, they weren’t in the exact same market space.
Trump, though, really doesn’t like CNN. You’d hope that observers could say something a bit more positive about a president of the United States, and yet here we are, with the current occupant of that position establishing themselves as an opponent of the free press.
Thus, when the government laid out their terms for the approval of the now-greenlit merger and they included the sale of CNN, it came as no surprise that heads turned. It wouldn’t be the first time that Trump sought to carve a new face of American government that was more to his liking.
Now that the merger has been approved, the antitrust chief at Trump’s Department of Justice, Makan Delrahim has indicated an apparent openness to seeking something as drastic as an emergency stay from some other court of Judge Leon’s opinion.
‘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.’
The merger itself could be seen as a product of innovation in the mainstream media market, marrying content creation and distribution to compete with companies like Netflix and Amazon.
Judge Leon, for his part, admonished the government against seeking an emergency stay of his opinion, according to The New York Times. He made his decision apart from political considerations, having kept most of the arguments along those lines out of the trial, also according to The Times.
Meanwhile, going forward, the companies themselves have until June 21 to complete their merger.
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