However, Cornell Law School professor and antitrust expert George Hay said the DOJ has a sound theoretical case against AT&T.
“The weakness is in the magnitude of those effects,” Hay said, since even a small drop-off in the government’s forecasts for consumer damages would upset its case.
For instance, DOJ expert witness Carl Shapiro, a professor at UC Berkeley’s business school, used online survey research to substantiate his models showing the merger would add $571 million per year in subscription charges for US consumers.
District Court Judge Richard Leon, who’s presiding over the case, questioned the reliability of the data.
But Hay, as well as other antitrust or telco industry observers like Hal Singer, a senior fellow and expert in tech regulation at the George Washington University’s Institute for Public Policy, say it’s increasingly likely the AT&T deal is approved.
But they also argue AT&T will be compelled to agree formally not to leverage Time Warner content and to use arbitration in case of a dispute, similar to how Comcast secured approval after the DOJ challenged its acquisition of NBCUniversal.