AT&T's clash with Washington over its proposed acquisition of Time Warner is benefitting the Silicon Valley and its growing ambitions in the entertainment sector, CNBC reports, citing numerous industry watchers. The Department of Justice sued to block AT&T's merger late last year as part of a move that surprised most analysts and even the wireless carrier itself, prompting it to delay its deadline for the completion of the deal while publicly expressing its befuddlement with the development. And while the antitrust regulator is trying to break more than a century old precedent in regards to vertical consolidations, big tech is still freely investing in the segment, with the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Google, and even Facebook now committing significant sums to original video content.
Leo Hindery of InterMedia Partners was quoted by CNBC as saying that this is the first period in his career over which he's reluctant to predict what kind of a reaction could the federal regulators have to any proposed mergers, vertical or otherwise, criticizing Washington's "inconsistent strategies" in regards to approaching big business tie-ups. Whereas the Silicon Valley is still committing billions to boosting its video programming, some traditional media players feel they are unfairly limited by antitrust regulations, with that gap in regulatory policies becoming even more pronounced after the DOJ decided to break from precedent and challenge AT&T's proposal in court. That state of affairs is also what partially prompted Rupert Murdoch to accept Disney's $52.4 billion bid for the majority of 21st Century Fox last month, some sources claim. The high-profile deal may not be as straightforward as originally announced, with Comcast supposedly considering outbidding Disney for the assets if AT&T succeeds in defending its proposed acquisition in the court of law, though Disney is understood to already be planning for such a scenario.
Mr. Murdoch recently publicly criticized social media companies for their role in the demise of not just traditional media but digital outlets as well, claiming companies like Facebook should pay any website whose content their users are taking. The media mogul is understood to be skeptical of Fox's long-term prospects as uneven regulatory pressure and other obstacles may allow the Silicon Valley to outbid the firm for valuable content in the future, making Disney's offer an apt opportunity for him to cash out.