Top DOJ lawyer faces another big decision after AT&T-Time Warner case

AT-T-Time-Warner-Antitrust-2

Outside of court, however, critics of the lawsuit pointed to Trump's frequent criticism of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.

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.

Analysts say the decision will bolster firms such as Comcast - which is considering bidding for 21st Century Fox assets, including its stake in Sky, in a challenge to a deal announced between Fox and Disney previous year. AT&T argued that it needed to complete the merger to compete against media behemoths like Netflix and Amazon. It would also be the 12th largest deal in any sector, the data showed.

Using unusually strong language, Leon said it would be "manifestly unjust" for the government to ask him to put his own ruling on hold, because if he were to do so, it could have the effect of killing the deal, which has a deadline for completion of June 21.

A USA judge today cleared the AT&T merger with Time Warner.

The Justice Department had repeatedly suggested the judge consider forcing AT&T to divest some of Time Warner's cable channels. Comcast's $35 per share offer, which represents a 19% premium on Disney's bid, could result in a result in a high-stakes bidding war for Fox's assets.

Murdoch, 87, also wasn't swayed by Comcast's overtures because the cable company didn't offer a breakup fee.

"This will be a blockbuster summer for media mergers", said Mary Ann Halford, senior adviser to OC&C Strategy Consultants. Ultimately, the government argued this would harm competition and innovation as well as raise prices for consumers.

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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. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who heads up the antitrust division, said in a statement that he was disappointed in the court's decision and he reiterated the government's belief that the merger will harm consumers.

Some see the decision to challenge the merger as political, something the Justice Department has fiercely denied. She since met with Delrahim, and on Tuesday urged the DOJ to appeal.

"It's open season for vertical mergers", said Chris Sagers, an antitrust law professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. In theory, AT&T could refuse to enter content deals with DirecTV's competitors or jack up prices to the point where smaller services would be shut out of the market. That could give it a leg up over rival live streaming platforms that do not own content, media analysts have said.

"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", the AT&T victory lap reads. He also warned that the government might try to find a way around the courts to block the deal.

The deal cost AT&T's top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, his job in May after it became public that AT&T had paid Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000 for advice on winning approval.

"It's more that they just didn't lose".

A lot of people keeping a very, very close eye on this case.

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