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.

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Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 33,642,602 — Total deaths: 1,007,769 — Total recoveries: 23,387,825Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,191,061 — Total deaths: 205,998 — Total recoveries: 2,813,305 — Total tests: 103,155,189Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. Politics: 7 former FDA commissioners say Trump is undermining agency's credibility
  5. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  6. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  7. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
  8. Work: United States of burnout — Asian American unemployment spikes amid pandemic

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed 46,600 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

Some 18,700 firefighters are battling 27 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: 8,155 wildfires have burned across a record 3.86 million acres, killing 26 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The first Trump v. Biden presidential debate was a hot mess

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

This debate was like the country: Everybody’s talking. Nobody’s listening. Nothing is learned. It’s a mess.

  • We were told President Trump would be savage. Turned out, that was a gross understatement. Even the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, got bulldozed.

Why it matters: Honestly, who the hell knows?

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