"The US approach maximises consumer welfare"
No, it doesn't...
It maximises corporate welfare...
Across political divides in the United States there's a common appetite for reining in the country's plutocratic corporate overlords. The country that reveres Mom 'n' Pop businesses is wary when giant businesses combine. But the landmark decision in a US District Court permitting two legacy businesses to merge indicates how hard …
It means a short term "introductory offers" made to consumers overrides any long term detriment to the consumer and associated markets.
"Populist" also means playing on undefined fears, rumour, and prejudice rather than moral, economic, or data driven...
All totally the American way...
in reality the US approach maximises corporate welfare
Corporate welfare maybe, but not investor welfare. The history of both companies and the sectors involved show largely negative benefits from M&A, that certainly does little for consumers, but it does even less for investors.
At least in this instance the companies are merging, which should mean little in the way of acquisition goodwill that the customers end up paying for.
It may do that as well, but "consumer welfare" is a technical term:
...which really means lower prices. The prevailing theory in US antitrust is that if prices are lower, then everyone's a happy bunny.
it does not necessarily follow that prices will be lower under a monopoly.
They rarely are unless the monopoly is heavily and competently regulated.
But in this case there's no new monopoly. AT&T and TW are largely in different businesses, and any local monopoly (eg on network or telco assets) already exists and would be unchanged. TW do add to existing AT&T content ownership, but not sufficient to make them any new form of monopoly in content.
> AT&T and TW are largely in different businesses, and any local monopoly (eg on network or telco assets) already exists and would be unchanged
No, they're not. For example, my "choice" in local ISPs is AT&T... or Time Warner (Spectrum)
Hm. I wonder how the merger will affect me?
... I've been in colos where AT&T *and* TIme-Warner both had their own circuits piped in. (as in, they owned the copper cable going in and their techs put it their, not just leasing it from the local telco)
I expect the judge in this case has an untracable bank account that has suddenly grown *much* larger...
@Andrew: Even with that simplistic definition of Consumer Welfare, it does not necessarily follow that prices will be lower under a monopoly.
Who claimed otherwise?
Andrew's point is that the official guiding principle of US antitrust efforts is "consumer welfare", which in this case is a term of art with a specific definition. As he wrote in the article, European antitrust is based on a different official guiding principle.
And this official guiding principle is one reason for the historical lack, relatively speaking, of antitrust activity in the US. That's what he was writing about in that section of the article. He did not claim that US antitrust activity is necessarily of actual benefit to its citizenry.
Why so many readers have trouble comprehending this rather simple point is beyond me.
Sorry, wait - I just remembered this is an Internet forum, where thinking first is considered gauche. Never mind.
This is much bigger deal in the US than (say) in the UK, because many USizens don't have an effective choice of ISP. If I don't like the deal that my UK ISP offers me, whether on straight price/performance or for other services that may be bundled with it, it's simple to change to another (albeit the actual signal will probably be carried over the same copper/fibre, probably owned by BT). For reasons partly historical and partly geographical, this isn't as straightforward in much of the US.
> TW aren't active materially (if at all) in ISP and telco activity.
Time Warner Cable was spun off well before this deal was even thought of(I don't think AT&T was even in the TV market yet). I worked for them (indirectly) for a brief time and they were very clear during training that we were to always use the company's full name because of this.
"Its just 2 US corps merging, neither of which have a significant broadband or any other type of presense IT or otherwise in the UK. Who cares?"
I think you mean two US based global corporations who have their fingers in many pies around the world.
AT&T offers a comprehensive service portfolio to clients - helping them put their business in motion across a nationwide infrastructure. AT&T has three state-of-the-art Internet Data Centers (Birmingham and London x 2) and a nationwide network of MPLS enabled POP's. The UK is also the AT&T Center for Global Disaster Recovery operations. "
"Time Warner's UK businesses - AOL UK; IPC Media; TIME and Fortune magazines; Turner Broadcasting; and Warner Bros."
this is still a UK based site isn't it?
You may not have noticed it, but El Reg is multinational. It has journalists in the UK, US and Australia (and possibly more countries than that, because I don't pay much attention to the bylines). The stuff it covers is also multinational, with the biggest players being in the US, then probably China, followed by Japan and Korea, with the UK somewhere below them.
You also appear never to have heard the aphorism "When the US sneezes the whole world catches a cold." The events covered by this article may not affect you directly but they will eventually affect you indirectly. If only because our fucktard of a PM uses the renowned gambit of "monkey see, monkey do."
Perhaps you would like to vote for the UK exiting the rest of the world so that events outside the UK will have no effect upon you.
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