Trump administration appeals $US85 billion merger of Time Warner and AT&T

Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision

Justice Department appeals AT&T-Time Warner merger | TheHill

The Justice Department on Thursday filed to appeal a federal judge's decision to approve the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger. Rest assured, this battle is far from over.

In a massive blow to prosecutors, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said last month that the merger could move forward without any conditions attached.

"The court's decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based and well-reasoned", the company's general counsel, David McAtee, said in a statement.

The Justice Department sued to stop the deal a year ago, saying that a distributor, AT&T, owning the likes of HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. would harm consumers by causing an increase in prices and would hurt innovation and competition.

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The Department of Justice on Thursday is appealing (via Bloomberg) the case on the grounds of antitrust. The DOJ did not, but left open the question of whether it would still appeal. Still, the Justice Department apparently believes it has an adequate legal basis to show an error in Leon's ruling, Schaeffer said. It has been renamed WarnerMedia, and AT&T has rolled out a $15-a-month streaming service that heavily uses some of the content owned by WarnerMedia.

The merger, first announced in October 2016, was opposed by President Donald Trump.

AT&T is a phone, cable and satellite company, and the biggest pay TV provider in the United States - claiming about 25 million of the approximately 90 million United States households that are pay TV customers. Trump has publicly feuded with Time Warner's CNN, calling it "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news". AT&T asserted during the trial that it needed to grow to survive in the era of Google, Amazon and Netflix. That could cause consumers to have to pay higher prices for content. AT&T has since closed the acquisition of Time Warner, including CNN.

Comcast started a bidding war with Disney for the entertainment assets of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in the days following the court ruling.

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