A Giant Merger Is Cleared, Despite DOJ Objections

Appeals court blesses AT&T acquisition of Time Warner
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2019 11:16 AM CST
One of the Media World's Biggest Marriages Is Cleared
In this June 13, 2018, file photo, the logos for Time Warner and AT&T appear above alternate trading posts on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A federal appeals court has cleared AT&T's takeover of Time Warner, rejecting a challenge from the Trump administration, per the AP. The ruling by the US Court of Appeals in Washington came Tuesday in the high-stakes case, approving one of the biggest media marriages ever. The appeals court agreed with the ruling of a trial judge last year that the merger would not harm competition, reports the Wall Street Journal. The US antitrust lawsuit against Dallas-based AT&T marked the first time in decades that the government has challenged that doctrine by suing to block a "vertical merger"—meaning two companies that don't compete directly against each other. The Journal sees it as the biggest loss in a generation for the Department of Justice's antitrust division.

US District Judge Richard Leon was correct to dismiss the government's argument that the merger would hurt competition, limit choices, and jack up prices for consumers to stream TV and movies, the appeals judges ruled. The case could affect the future course of antitrust regulation. Leon's ruling already has opened the floodgates to dealmaking in the fast-changing worlds of entertainment production and distribution. Just a day after his decision, Comcast jumped back into a bidding war with Disney for most of 21st Century Fox's TV and movie businesses. Disney eventually won, and Comcast bought British broadcaster Sky instead. Wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile also are attempting to combine; the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are still reviewing that deal.

(More AT&T stories.)

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