Govt argues that AT&T-Time Warner deal would hurt consumers

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government pleaded its case Monday for blocking AT&T from absorbing Time Warner, saying it would hurt consumers as a big antitrust trial crept toward its end and a decision by a federal judge.

The $85 billion proposed merger is a “big deal,” Craig Conrath, the lead Justice Department attorney, said on the last day of the trial. “It would have a massive effect on the structure of the pay TV industry.”

Conrath said that by hurting competition, the deal “would impose substantial harm on consumers.”

The merger would combine the phone giant with the owner of CNN, HBO, the “Harry Potter” franchise and pro basketball. The outcome of the case could shape how consumers get – and how much they pay for – streaming TV and movies.