AT&T-Time Warner Merger Trial Framework Takes Shape

The timetable for the government's suitagainst the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is taking shape.

Related: DOJ Suing to Block AT&T-Time Warner Deal

There will be a Dec. 21 status hearing before Judge Richard Leon to go over scheduling issues, procedures and the like.

No big news is expected out of that hearing.

The trial is scheduled to begin March 19, 2018, unless the sides can settle before then.

Justice wants AT&T to spin off the Turner programming assets, arguing they give the combined company the incentive and opportunity to disfavor competitors.

AT&T and Time Warner have signaled such a spinoff is a nonstarter and offered up what amounts to their own behavioral conditions, though Makan Delrahim, who heads the antitrust division signaled Justice would be looking for more divestitures and fewer behavioral conditions, suggesting the latter remedy was over-regulatory, as well as essentially allowing an illegal merger under conditions that were hard to monitor.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.