AT&T-Time Warner antitrust suit leaves tech firms wary

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The nation’s technology industry at first glance looked like a winner in the Justice Department’s move to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. A merged company probably would be a stronger company, allowing it to control, for example, both the creation of “Game of Thrones” and the delivery of episodes to millions of fans. Stopping that merger, experts say, stands to help potential rivals, including a cohort of ambitious tech companies — such as Google, Facebook and Amazon — that in recent years have forced their way into the battle for American entertainment dollars. But whatever the stakes in that merger fight, more aggressive federal enforcement of antitrust laws may not prove to be good news for tech giants that have grown wildly profitable over the past decade as they’ve squashed some rivals while gobbling up others.  Many of those acquisitions faced government review but ultimately were permitted in an era when federal officials drew criticism for not more forcefully challenging burgeoning monopolies. If antitrust enforcement is taking a more aggressive turn under the Trump administration, such companies could find themselves in the government’s sights, say experts. “An administration that was interested in looking at monopolistic practices would have a very rich field,” said Lina Khan, legal policy director for the Open Markets Institute, a think tank. “If you’re a big tech company, the best antitrust enforcement policy is no antitrust enforcement policy.”


AT&T-Time Warner antitrust suit leaves tech firms wary