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In a spirited defense of his outfit’s attempted $85bn bid to buy Time Warner before a federal court, AT&T chief Randall Stephenson said the deal will help the telecoms operator compete in the media space, countering the dominance of players such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Detailing his rationale for the proposed merger, which has been opposed by the Department of Justice on antitrust grounds, Stephenson denied allegations that AT&T would use control of Time Warner to disadvantage other cable companies by making itself the exclusive content distributor of Time Warner content.

Under questioning from lawyers, he also said the deal would help it better compete in the digital advertising market, where Silicon Valley players dominate. Allowing AT&T to expand its data-driven advertising business would also enable it to lower the subscription price for its DirecTV customers, Stephenson added.

“If you miss one technology cycle, it may not kill you, but it will make you sick for a very long time,” he said.

Randall echoed the testimony of Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes. Earlier this week he told the same court that the proposed merger should be rubber-stamped by the US government, as the creation of such an entity would help rival Facebook and Google’s dominance of the online advertising industry. “We don’t have the tech platform, don’t have the engineers, don’t have the infrastructure,” he added. 

In the last year alone, AT&T has made several moves indicating its ambitions in the online advertising space, as evidenced by its appointment of former GroupM chief executive, North America, Brian Lesser to lead its advertising and analytics service.