Geoffrey Manne on Antitrust Case Against AT&T in The Wall Street Journal
ICLE Executive Director Geoffrey Manne shares his take on the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner in The Wall Street Journal:
Withholding Time Warner content from competitors would make no financial sense. AT&T has agreed to pay $85 billion for Time Warner. More than half of Time Warner’s revenue, $6 billion last year, comes from fees that distributors pay to carry its content. Because fewer than 15% of home-video subscriptions are on networks owned by AT&T (DirecTV, U-verse, and DirecTV Now), the bulk of that revenue comes from other providers.
In other words: Calculated using expected revenue, AT&T is paying $36 billion for the portion of Time Warner’s business that comes from AT&T’s competitors. The theory seems to be that the merged company would simply forgo this revenue in a speculative hope that withholding Time Warner content from distributors would induce masses of viewers to switch to AT&T—and maybe, one day, put competitors out of business. That this strategy would actually work is unfathomable. “Game of Thrones” is good, but it isn’t that good.