AT&T, Time Warner, and the Future of TV in the Mobile Era

The combined company would have a library that includes HBO's hit Game of Thrones and channels like CNN, along with vast distribution reach through wireless and satellite television services across the country.

AT&T, a content distributor, first announced a deal in October 2016 that would let it acquire Time Warner, a content creator that counts HBO, Warner Bros. and cable network giant Turner Broadcasting among its biggest assets.

The Justice Department could appeal the ruling, although it said only that it is considering its options.

In court the justice department argued an integrated company would use its size to raise prices and that it was problematic for one company to own a top pay-TV distributor, AT&T's DirecTV, as well as Time Warner, a company that makes content distributed by DirecTV's rivals.

It's been years in the making, but the mammoth merger of AT&T and Time Warner Inc.is officially going to happen.

A decision is expected Tuesday afternoon in the government's lawsuit to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner.

AT&T has won a court ruling that will allow it to buy Time Warner Inc., Bloomberg and other media outlets reported today.

In its suit against AT&T, the Department of Justice alleges the merger would "greatly harm American consumers" through "higher monthly bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy", Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said when announcing the suit a year ago.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahm said the government was disappointed in Leon's ruling.

In a scathing opinion, Leon concluded that the government had failed to show competitive harm and urged the USA government not to seek a stay of his ruling pending a potential appeal, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed.

AT&T and Time Warner are not competitors; their proposed merger would be a "vertical integration" of complementary companies. "I think we'll see now that companies will be much more confident about vertical mergers", he added, referring to deals where a company merges with a supplier. "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".

"We want people engaged with their mobile devices all day watching movies and video", Stephenson said in April during the trial.

For this reason, the government was hoping that Leon would at least put conditions on the merger, like requiring the telecom to sell off some of Time Warner's most coveted properties.

Former Federal Communications Commission staff attorney Blair Levin said a loose interpretation of antitrust law would allow the government to block nearly any deal, and open up the process to political interference. However, now that the AT&T deal has been approved by a federal judge, there is precedent for such a deal and Comcast believes it won't be blocked.

President Obama's Justice Department brought the case against AmEx, while President Trump's sued AT&T.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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