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Vertical Mergers and the MFN Thicket in Television

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Recently, a number of cable and satellite TV service providers, known as “MVPDs," have sought to combine with upstream programmers. In 2011, Comcast obtained approval to acquire NBC Universal, and it is now seeking to acquire Sky PLC, a major European programmer. More recently, AT&T (which also owns DirecTV) successfully defended against the government’s challenge of its proposed acquisition of Time-Warner, which retains many valuable programming properties, including HBO, Warner Brothers, and Turner Broadcasting. These vertical mergers are occurring against a backdrop of emergent downstream competition, as consumers are increasingly opting for new streaming-based platforms.