US Court Approves $85Bln AT&T Merger With CNN Owner Time Warner

Pawns on a chessboard

Before Leon's verdict, AT&T's stock price was down more than 10 percent on the year, as DirectTV was bleeding subscribers. It's already purchased satellite TV provider DirecTV for almost $49 billion.

It is worth remembering that the Justice Department is reviewing the T-Mobile/Sprint combination, and the Justice Department did not approve AT&T's purchase of Time Warner.

He took issue with the government's analysis that the merger would result in higher prices for consumers, telling a packed courtroom that the findings "rested on improper notions."‬ And Leon also warned the USA government against seeking a stay on the merger if it brings an appeal for the objective of trying to stymie the deal.

The Justice Department sued to block AT&T/Time Warner deal in late 2017 as anti-competitive and harmful to consumers. In a statement, Delrahim said he was "disappointed" in the ruling but stopped short of saying his division would appeal, saying only that it would "consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition". Comcast announced in May that it was preparing an offer to buy 21st Century Fox after an earlier bid was rejected, and news reports suggest that an offer could come as soon as Wednesday.

Media executives increasingly say content creation and distribution must be married to survive against technology companies like Amazon and Netflix.

And the AT&T-Time Warner deal is not necessarily yet in the clear.

AT&T would use its leverage over the must-have shows, in particular HBO's Game of Thrones or National Basketball Association games on TNT, to charge Comcast or Verizon more than it would charge itself for distributing Time Warner channels, giving itself a competitive advantage, the government claimed. Last fall, he presented AT&T and Time Warner with two options: Sell the majority stake in either DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting.

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"Industry trend lines point to increased video consumption in the future - and AT&T aims to ride those tailwinds".

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood added that AT&T will now "be able to surveil its customers across the entire internet and target ads to them in ways that even Google and Facebook would be hard-pressed to match".

"The government's evidence is too thin a reed for this court to find that AT&T has, in that well worn turn of phrase, either the "incentive" or the "ability" to withhold HBO promotional rights in order to 'lessen competition substantially'". He said the company needed to take a giant leap into the content business. "It's illogical. It's why we did the deal".

AT&T originally announced the deal on October 22, 2016, just a few short weeks before Donald Trump was elected president. The government has argued that Trump did not communicate with antitrust officials over the deal and that their choice to fight the merger was not influenced by the White House.

In court the justice department argued an integrated company would use its size to raise prices and that it was problematic for one company to own a top pay-TV distributor, AT&T's DirecTV, as well as Time Warner, a company that makes content distributed by DirecTV's rivals. Sessions did not comply with the request.

It's also worth noting that President Trump has been publicly opposed to the deal since he was on the campaign trail.

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