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AT&T, Time Warner CEOs expected to take the stand this week in landmark antitrust trial

The Dallas Morning News — By Melissa Repko The Dallas Morning News

April 16-- AT&T chief executive officer Randall Stephenson and Time Warner chief executive officer Jeff Bewkes are expected to testify this week in its antitrust battle with the government.

The Dallas-based telecom is trying to acquire the New York media and entertainment company in a deal that's valued at nearly $109 billion, including debt. The merger would turn AT&T into a media powerhouse by combining its wireless, cable and satellite businesses with Time Warner's TV and movie content, including CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. Studios.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger, saying AT&T would use Time Warner programming as "a weapon" to drive up rates for TV competitors and ultimately, raise prices for consumers.

The trial began in Washington, D.C. in mid-March. Its outcome is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who approved the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger with conditions. AT&T and some analysts have compared the two mergers, since both combine a traditional pay-TV company with a content owner.

Over the past few weeks, the Justice Department has made its case with testimony from AT&T and Time Warner competitors, economists and adversarial witnesses like Time Warner-owned Turner CEO John Martin.

AT&T and Time Warner's legal team will go on the offensive this week and put their own witnesses on the stand. Bewkes is expected to testify, followed by Stephenson later in the week. John Stankey, the AT&T executive tapped to lead the companies' integration efforts and run Time Warner's media business after the merger, is also expected to testify.

Stephenson and Bewkes attended opening arguments. Stankey has been a constant presence at the trial, sitting near AT&T and Time Warner's legal team.

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