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AT&T rejects DOJ’s fee-hike claim

AT&T wasted no time striking back at the Department of Justice’s sealed claim that the telecom’s takeover of Time Warner would increment average monthly pay-TV bills by 45 cents.

In a brief filed on Tuesday, AT&T insisted its adoption of an Arbitration/No Blackout Commitment blunted “the core allegation of the government’s theory — that the merged firm will be capable to scare distributors into paying higher prices.”

The brief is the latest salvo before the expected start of the antitrust trial on Monday.

AT&T embraced the Arbitration/No Blackout Commitment in November to sure pay-TV distributors that they could elect “baseball-style” arbitration — without fears of blackouts — to settle any carriage disputes with Time Warner’s Turner division.

The “no blackout” component extends for seven years.

President Trump’s trustbusters at Justice sued AT&T in November to block its $85 billion takeover of Time Warner — which owns CNN, TBS, Warner Bros. studio and others assets — claiming the deal would lead to higher pay-TV prices and otherwise harm consumers and competitors.

Justice’s model forecasting AT&T’s increased bargaining power is flawed, the telecom said in its filing.

“That effort should be rejected,” AT&T said.

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