CNN Interviews Jonathan Pitt on Judge’s Options in AT&T - Time Warner Merger

April 2018

On April 23, Jonathan Pitt was featured on CNN Money to discuss the Department of Justice’s attempt to stop AT&T’s planned acquisition of Time Warner.  When asked about the options the judge has in this matter, Jonathan said, “‘A judge in these kinds of cases has very broad equitable power to fashion the remedy that he thinks will best address any potential[] lessening of competition that could be occasioned by the merger.’ One possibility, Pitt said, could be an adjustment to the arbitration offer that Turner -- the Time Warner subsidiary that runs its cable networks -- sent to its distributors after the Justice Department filed its lawsuit last year. The offer guarantees Turner will arbitrate any contract disputes with distributors, like a cable company or a new streaming service, and guarantees against blackouts in which distributors lose access to certain channels during an impasse in negotiations. Turner's current offer is blind, and offers ‘baseball-style’ arbitration, meaning each side makes an offer and an arbitrator decides which offer to accept based on the ‘fair market value.’ . . . Pitt -- who said he thinks the Justice Department may have ‘bit off more than they can chew’ by bringing the case -- said Leon could ask for a modified arbitration offer in two ways: He could informally signal in court to AT&T and Time Warner that he would likely approve the merger if they submit a new arbitration offer that meets the standards he thinks are necessary. Or, Leon could just ‘impose those conditions, whatever they may be, as part of an order that he issues along the lines of an injunction,’ Pitt said, noting though that it would be ‘extremely rare’ for a judge to issue such an order.”

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*Williams & Connolly currently represents Time Warner on other matters.

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