Friday, 17 August, 2018

Justice Department Appeals Approval Of Time Warner AT&T Merger

Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision Justice Department appeals AT&T-Time Warner merger | TheHill
Russell Knight | 14 July, 2018, 11:15

Almost a month after the merger was approved, the Department of Justice now says it will appeal the AT&T and Time Warner deal. Rest assured, this battle is far from over.

Judge Richard Leon of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the tie-up between AT&T's wireless and satellite businesses with Time Warner's movies and television shows was legal under antitrust law. "While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances", AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said in a statement provided to CNBC. DOJ's willingness to appeal, however, indicates a confidence in their case and may lead to much more definitive and precedent-setting ruling in the D.C. Circuit.

The two companies completed the merger in the days following the ruling, so if the government prevails, the appeals court could order the deal undone or require AT&T to sell off parts of Time Warner.

However, a court document filed today indicates that the Justice Department will appeal the decision.

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Leon had sharply urged the Justice Department not to seek a stay of his ruling, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed. The merger fuses a company that produces news and entertainment with one that funnels that programming to consumers. The transition to streaming services, away from traditional cable, is one that's costing pay TV companies millions of subscribers and billions in revenue every year. The merger, first announced in October 2016, was also opposed by President Donald Trump.

This fuelled speculation that Trump could be retaliating due to critical coverage of his administration from news broadcaster CNN, which was part of Time Warner.

AT&T argued, during the trial, that it needed to grow to survive in the era of Google, Amazon and Netflix. He did say that AT&T would have to temporarily operate Time Warner's Turner networks separately from DirecTV.

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