Brazil Raises Antitrust Concerns With AT&T/Time Warner

Brazilian authorities have weighed in with antitrust concerns about the AT&T/Time Warner cable merger, according to deal critic Public Knowledge.

Such a finding would mean AT&T/DirecTV "would not be allowed to treat Time Warner assets as part of that company, but would need to deal with them at arms length," the group said.

Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) said that the deal should be rejected unless some properties are divested, though it did not identify which, said Public Knowledge.

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The CADE board still has to vote on that recommendation.

AT&T was putting the best face on it, including saying it would work with CADE to "clarify" any issues.

“The merger between AT&T and Time Warner has taken one more step in its path to conclusion in the Brazilian market. The CADE’s Superintendency referred the case to the Board for review. This means that the transaction will now be analyzed by the CADE’s body responsible for its final decision on the matter."

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AT&T believes that the union of the two players will not bring anti-competitive impacts to the market. The company believes that the merger with Time Warner will bring benefits for consumers as it will enlarge the options of content available for them and raise their access to information and entertainment. The operation also contributes for the market competitiveness, improving the offer of high quality services to customers, and stimulates the development of the audiovisual sector in Brazil.

AT&T says of the 19 approvals it needs from 19 different countries, it has already gotten 16, with three pending, Brazil, Chile and the U.S.

Reports last week had the U.S. Justice Department reaching the home stretch of its antitrust review. The FCC is not conducting a public interest review because the deal was structured so that it did not include any exchange of licenses.

(Photo via Bill Bradford's Flickr. Image taken on March 4, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio.)

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.