Telecom giant AT&T [corporate website] filed a response Friday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] to the antitrust lawsuit initiated against it by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. The DOJ filed suit [JURIST report] last month attempting to block AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of cellular carrier T-Mobile USA [corporate website], citing the important role T-Mobile has played in keeping prices down by creating pressure on the other large carriers, including not only AT&T, but also Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel [corporate websites]. In its response to the suit, AT&T argued that acquiring T-Mobile will allow it to provide better services to its customers [AP report] as a result of the expansion of its mobile network. In addition, AT&T contends that smaller, regional carriers will act as alternatives to consumers and thus not allow the market to be completely dominated by itself, Verizon and Sprint. The case is set to be heard on September 21.
The worldwide consolidation of media is an ongoing global concern. In August, a class action lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] against Apple [corporate website] and five major publishers for allegedly colluding to illegally fix electronic book (e-book) prices. Communication Director for Free Press, Dave Saldana argued last July [JURIST Op-ed] that the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile deal is an example of the enormous influence giant media corporations can bring to bear through massive public relations blitzes and the acquisition of political influence through the pouring of money into lobbying efforts and campaign contributions. He said that it is as a result of exactly these kinds of efforts, that AT&T remains confident that its T-Mobile purchase will go through, "because it knows it has several hundred million reasons to push for the merger, and millions of means to get it." He warned that media consolidation is dangerous because it gives the companies leverage to sway public opinion and dominate the narrative when their own practices are questioned.