Jeff Bewkes and John Martin. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner

Justice Department lawyers pushed Turner CEO John Martin on Wednesday to acknowledge that his high-profile sports content would give AT&T a powerful weapon against its competitors — but Martin wouldn't bite. It was the latest development in the trial over whether the telecom giant can buy Turner parent Time Warner. 

Why it matters: Martin danced around the question because the core of the DOJ's argument in blocking the deal is that AT&T could hold back these popular sporting rights as leverage to drive higher prices for everyone but its video service DirecTV.

The gritty details:

  • The Justice Department pointed to an email from Martin to Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, saying that the network would tell Dish subscribers that a blackout of sports content was coming because Dish had yet to reach an agreement with Turner during a round of negotiations.
  • Martin said it was a negotiating tactic to get to an agreement with Dish, implying the objective was not to cause them to hemorrhage customers.
  • Martin stressed that he has no incentive to discriminate against other online streaming live television services that compete with DirecTV Now, because he needs the widest distribution possible to attract advertising and subscription revenue.

The other side: When cross-examined by AT&T and Time Warner lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, Martin said that the company needed more data, which it might get from the merger, to combat falling ad revenues as a result of fewer people subscriber to traditional video services.

Go deeper

10 hours ago - Health

15 states broke single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 11,143,945 — Total deaths: 527,681 — Total recoveries — 6,004,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 2,818,588 — Total deaths: 129,584 — Total recoveries: 883,561 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.
11 hours ago - Health

In photos: America celebrates July 4 during global pandemic

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The U.S. has already celebrated Easter, graduations and so much more during the coronavirus pandemic, and now it can add July 4 to the list.

The state of play: Axios' Stef Kight writes public parades and fireworks displays around much of the country are being canceled to prevent mass gatherings where the virus could spread. Hot-dog contests and concerts will play to empty stands and virtual audiences — all while American pride treads an all-time low.