A federal judge has OK’d the proposed mega merger between AT&T and Time Warner, clearing the way for the $85 billion deal to go through. The U.S. Justice Department had sued to the prevent the transaction from going through citing anti-trust concerns.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon approved the deal in a 172-page decision. “Ultimately, I conclude that the Government has failed to meet its burden to establish that the proposed ‘transaction is likely to lessen competition substantially,’” he wrote.
AT&T General Counsel David McAtee applauded the decision. “We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government’s lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner,” he said in a statement.
“We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative.”
Leon urged the government not to seek a stay against his decision. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the DOJ was considering what to do next.
“We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner. We will closely review the Court’s opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers,” he said in a statement.
AT&T, the telecom giant and owner of satellite provider DirecTV, announced it was buying Time Warner in October 2016, in order to gain access to valuable content-creation markets. Time Warner owns channels such as HBO and CNN, as well as film studio Warner Bros.
The acquisition it said, would also set the company up to better compete with companies like Amazon and Netflix which are becoming larger players in the content-creation space.
“The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T in a statement after the decision.
“We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers.”
Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr