Bloomberg News

U.S. Asks Judge to Allow Sharing of Documents AT&T Gave FCC

November 16, 2011

(Updates with excerpt from filing from third paragraph.)

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. asked a federal judge to allow prosecutors to discuss with outside lawyers and consultants documents AT&T Inc. gave the Federal Communications Commission to support its proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc.

The Justice Department said in a court filing today that the ability to discuss material would let it better respond to AT&T’s claims about the benefits of the proposed $39 billion deal during a trial of the government’s antitrust case.

“The FCC already permits outside lawyers and consultants to review defendant’s FCC filings,” the Justice Department argued. Being able to discuss the material with some of those lawyers “would not increase the pool of those who have the ability to access defendant’s models.”

The Justice Department subpoenaed the same documents in its preparation for the trial, which is scheduled to start Feb. 13. The request places “no additional burden” on AT&T, the government said in the filing.

The Justice Department sued Dallas-based AT&T and Bonn- based Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31, saying a combination of the two companies would “substantially” reduce competition. The merger would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier,.

The FCC, which must rule on whether the transfer of spectrum licenses from T-Mobile to AT&T serves the public interest, is still reviewing the transaction.

The case is company reveals its own. The U.S. is seeking simultaneous disclosure of final witness lists on Jan. 22.

The Justice Department sued AT&T and Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31, saying a combination of the two companies would “substantially” reduce competition. Seven states and Puerto Rico joined the effort to block the deal, which would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier.

AT&T is also defending against private antitrust lawsuits objecting to the deal filed by Sprint Nextel Corp. and Cellular South Inc. Huvelle hasn’t decided when those cases will be tried.

The case is U.S. v. AT&T Inc., 11-cv-01560, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

--With assistance from Tom Schoenberg in Washington. Editors: Fred Strasser, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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