Table of Contents - July 27, 2018

Justice Department Seeks Swift Appellate Review In AT&T-TWI Antitrust Case

The Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to expedite its review of Senior District Judge Richard Leon's rejection of the agency's attempt to block AT&T, Inc.'s, proposed acquisition of Time Warner, Inc., arguing that swift resolution is important not only for this particular case but to address the appropriate antitrust approach to vertical mergers.

In its motion filed July 18 in U.S. v. AT&T, Inc., et al. (case 18-5214), Justice said that the defendants, which closed their merger two days after Judge Leon's ruling, are not opposed to the expedited briefing schedule proposed by the department, which calls for the government's opening brief to be submitted by Aug. 6, the defendants' answering brief to be filed by Sept. 20, and the government's reply brief to be filed by Oct. 11, along with the deferred joint appendix. Final briefs would be due Oct. 18.

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Court Upholds Tiered Rate Structure for VRS

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on July 24 rejected challenges to the FCC's 2017 order retaining a tiered rate structure for reimbursing providers of video relay service (VRS), although it warned that if the Commission fails to consider "all possible solutions" to the problem of subsidizing the inefficiencies of higher-cost providers, it could be viewed as arbitrary "at some point."

Sorenson, the largest VRS provider, which had challenged the FCC order adopted in CG dockets 10-51 and 03-123, had objected to the tiered rate structure, which compensated smaller VRS providers that generate fewer overall VRS minutes at higher per-minute rates than Sorenson. It argued that the rate structure is incompatible with the provision in section 225 of the Communications Act that calls for efficiency in the FCC's disability access efforts. It also argued that the FCC had tried to justify the tiered rate structure by essentially redefining the "functional equivalence" in the statutory provisions on disability access to include the idea of maintaining competition.

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