At 4 p.m. today, Judge Richard Leon will hand down a long-awaited ruling that will decide the fate of the AT&T’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. The Justice Department is suing to block the vertical merger on an antitrust case (with the added suspicion that the actual motivating factor behind this is that our president is a giant baby), given that it consists of a content distributor acquiring a content provider. According to Bloomberg, Leon’s decision could mean turning billions of dollars in the stock market. This means that investors reallllly want to be the first to hear what happens.
However, Judge Leon has decided to read his decision out loud from the bench, rather than the more conventional method of posting it online. What this means, as Bloomberg reported, is that people are paying professional line-standers to wait a whole day in advance to get seats to the ruling:
With less than five hours to go before the hearing begins, the line had moved inside the courthouse and snaked down the 6th floor hallway, complete with folding chairs. Peppered among the people eager to snare a seat were so-called line sitters, who are paid to hold spots — a practice common in Washington, and one that was used during the trial for big witnesses. The going rate is $36 an hour, meaning a front-row seat could run about $860.
So it costs up to $860 to be the first to know whether or not a massive corporate merger is going through, a decision that could potentially imperil billions in the stock market. That amount of money could buy a dedicated line-stander up to 57 HBO subscriptions. What a deal!