Justice Department to Appeal AT&T/Time Warner Decision

Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision

Rest assured, this battle is far from over.

AT&T announced an $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner back in 2016, which the Justice Department rebutted with an antitrust lawsuit last November. "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. Today, the Justice Department has appealed that U.S. court's approval.

The Justice Department sued to stop the deal past year, 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.

The document itself is over 200 pages and argues that the merger would significantly decrease competition.

Using unusually strong language, Leon discouraged the Justice Department from asking him to put the ruling on hold while it considers an appeal. Still, the Justice Department apparently believes it has an adequate legal basis to show an error in Leon's ruling, Schaeffer said. It renamed the New York-based media company WarnerMedia. AT&T is a phone, cable and satellite behemoth that became the biggest pay-TV provider in the USA with its acquisition of DirecTV in 2014.

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AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner is already underway, so DOJ may also seek an injunction ordering the deal to halt while the appeal is decided on.

Mr Trump has publicly feuded with Time Warner's CNN, calling it "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news". AT&T has committed to certain conditions under which it will run Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN.

With control over a significant portion of the content, AT&T is now in a good place to keep prices high among rivals and prevent streaming TV services from offering cut-price cable alternatives.

Trump had previously denounced the AT&T deal, vowing that his administration would block it because it would concentrate corporate power unacceptably. AT&T countered that the government's economic model was riddled with flaws and that the deal will enable AT&T and Time Warner to more effectively compete against companies such as Netflix Inc. The day after Leon delivered his ruling, Comcast made a $65 billion offer for 21st Century Fox, in an attempt to outbid Disney for Fox's entertainment assets.

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