AT&T Works With DOJ In Google Probe

AT&T  is working with the Justice Department as the government considers whether to bring an antitrust case against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, two years after the telecommunications giant was at loggerheads with the department over its acquisition of Time Warner, according to people familiar with the matter.
AT&T has conferred several times with Justice officials to share its views that Google is stifling competition in the advertising sector, where AT&T is seeking to make inroads with its Xandr division, the people said. 

Those discussions have included an audience with the top DOJ officials overseeing the probe, they said, and the Dallas company also is cooperating with a group of state attorneys general, led by Texas, that are investigating Google’s ad practices.

Google has said the ad marketplace remains competitive, with the search giant competing against companies large and small to power digital advertising across the web.

It isn’t uncommon for rival companies and industry customers to speak with the Justice Department during an antitrust review, and the department has spoken with many companies during its Google probe, including Wall Street Journal publisher News Corp, a longtime Google critic, and others such as Yelp, DuckDuckGo and Oracle Corp.

AT&T in recent years has said it wants to take on Google and Facebook Inc. in the fight for advertising dollars. It has built its Xandr advertising division to leverage its wireless subscriber base, its pay-TV customers and the stable of entertainment content it acquired when it bought Time Warner in 2018.

Two years ago, it was AT&T that was embroiled with the Justice Department, which filed suit against the company over its proposed acquisition of Time Warner, alleging the merger would harm competition in pay-TV markets. AT&T won the case and the merger went ahead. 

“We talk to advertisers. You’re hard-pressed to find an advertiser who says, I would like to spend more with Facebook and Google,” AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson testified during the 2018 trial.

In court, he and other AT&T officials touted their plans to take on the tech giants in advertising as a counterargument to DOJ’s claims that the Time Warner transaction would be anticompetitive.

Full Content: Wall Street Journal

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