With oral arguments set for Dec. 6 in the U.S. Department of Justice’s appeal of a court decision allowing the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, new details about the proceedings are emerging.
According to a court filing, AT&T and the DOJ will be allowed 20 minutes each for oral arguments. The arguments will be considered by a panel including Circuit Judges Judith Rogers and Robert Wilkins along with Senior Circuit Judge David Sentelle.
The judges' panel was revealed earlier this month. According to Reuters, all three judges have experience with antitrust matters, including a settlement limiting Microsoft’s power to punish computer makers who don’t use its software and a decision that allowed Google to acquire travel search and pricing firm ITA Software.
Over the summer, Judge Richard Leon ruled that AT&T could proceed as planned with its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, and he placed no conditions on the deal. The DOJ filed to appeal that decision.
While it’s still unclear exactly how each side will position their case during the oral arguments, the companies will likely be addressing the recent HBO blackout on Dish Network.
Dish Network said AT&T is abusing its new market power and shutting out pay TV competitors of AT&T-owned DirecTV and Uverse.
"Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers," said Andy LeCuyer, senior vice president of programming at Dish, in a statement. "It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors.”
HBO returned fire and accused Dish of being “extremely difficult” and not negotiating in good faith.
“Past behavior shows that removing services from their customers is becoming all too common a negotiating tactic for them,” said HBO in a statement.
The DOJ said the HBO blackout is consistent with behavior from AT&T it warned would occur if the Time Warner acquisition was allowed to proceed without conditions. And AT&T countered by accusing the DOJ and Dish of collaborating on the “tactical decision” to drop HBO.