US v. AT&T Time Warner: A Triumph of Economic Analysis

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On June 12, 2018, Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected arguments presented by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging the court to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Although Judge Leon’s comprehensive 172-page decision does not break new legal ground, it does represent a welcome reminder of the primacy of economic analysis over hot documents, testimony of rivals, and politics. As populist cries for increased government intervention to combat perceived widespread industry consolidation continue to mount – calls that often are proudly indifferent to the economic impact of the transaction – Judge Leon’s decision is a victory for evidence-based antitrust law. Now, with the DOJ deciding to appeal the decision, we believe the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has an important opportunity to affirm Judge Leon’s opinion and underscore the vital role that economic evidence plays as an objective means of evaluating the merits of the government’s decision to challenge a proposed transaction.