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Motley Crew Seeks to Block, Condition, AT&T/TW

A politically and socially diverse mix of groups has asked the Department of Justice to block the AT&T/Time Warner deal, or at least impose conditions to insure nondiscriminatory access to programming.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the groups actually urge Justice to wrap up the review, but add that if, "as it appears" the deal would "substantially harm" competition, to reject it unless those harms are mitigated via conditions.

"We are deeply concerned that allowing these firms to join forces --without significant conditions that fully address all competitive concerns--would intolerably limit consumers’ control over what they watch and where they get their information," they said, acknowledging their motley colors as groups that "diverge significantly on many policy issues."

Signing on to the letter were Tea Party Patriots, WGA-West, Public Knowledge, Americans for Limited Government, Consumer Federation of America, Frontiers of Freedom, and the American Family Association.

They did not specify what conditions they wanted beyond saying they needed to address "serious competition concerns. They did talk about the combined company's ability to promote its own programming--"CNN and HBO, three of the top five general entertainment cable networks, and the second largest movie studio in Warner Brothers"--including through "zero rating" plans that would discriminate against competitors by exempting only its own content from data charges, or make that programming on co-owned DirecTV cheaper than Dish, its chief rival.