Let's Tackle Real Antitrust Problems. AT&T Isn't One. [telecom]

By Joe Nocera

(Bloomberg Opinion) - Is the U.S. Department of Justice finally done being slapped around for trying to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal? After Tuesday's rejection of its position by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, it sure looks that way. The government had argued that the lower court incorrectly applied antitrust law when approving the deal, but its opposition to the merger was always about politics.

On the merits, it was never a strong case. First, the AT&T-Time Warner tie-up was a so-called vertical merger, meaning that the companies didn't overlap - and the government hasn't tried to block a vertical merger in over four decades. It was akin to the Comcast Corp.-NBCUniversal or Verizon-Yahoo! Inc., deals that passed muster despite outcries from consumer groups.

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