In the biggest comics story today that you might not have realized was a comics story, the Judge issued an opinion that the AT&T – Time Warner merger should be allowed to go through. With no conditions. More interestingly, the talking heads on TV have stated the Judge asked the Department of Justice not to appeal or ask for a stay on the merger. Now, we’ll have to see if the DOJ does indeed decide to walk away from the decision (which they’d need to take action on by the 21st), but right now it’s looking like this is a go and the paperwork should be signed to close the deal shortly.
David McAtee, AT&T General Counsel says:
We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government’s lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner. We thank the Court for its thorough and timely examination of the evidence, and we compliment our colleagues at the Department of Justice on their dedicated representation of the government. We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative.
In terms of the comics and media sphere, this is likely to kick off a wave of merger & acquisitions and consolidation.
- Comcast is widely expected to try and outbid Disney for Fox – no, we don’t know if this will impact the Fantastic Four comic relaunch.
- You wonder if Verizon is going to feel threatened and put in a bid for someone like CBS.
- If DC is launching a streaming channel on the Time Warner side of the aisle, where does Crunchyroll fit into this? Crunchyroll’s parent company, Ellation, is co-owned by AT&T and develops streaming channels.
Privately, a lot of people on the creative side of the business are a little nervous about this acquisition and the new ones everyone is anticipating because it means fewer buyers on the film/TV and that could mean lower pay. They don’t talk about it too loudly because of how politicized this merger became, but those are not unreasonable concerns, particularly if more consolidation occurs.
Interestingly enough, the movie studios had a vertical integration broken up in 1948 when the Supreme Court ruled against Paramount owning their own theaters and showing only Paramount films. That was one of the big landmark cases against vertical integration and while that’s not precisely what we’re looking at here, it’s not far off. The times have certainly changed. AT&T will soon own a streaming pipeline that starts with content creation and ends with the content being delivered via cable, wireless or Internet.
We’ll see if Warner waits on the deal formally closing before appointing the next President of DC. One suspects they want to know exactly where things lay post-merger before moving forward with that.