Saturday, 20 October, 2018

AT&T can buy Time Warner as judge shuts down Department of Justice

AT&T-Time Warner Decision: Either Way, Media Is Ailing AT&T Cleared by Judge to Buy Time Warner, Create Media Giant
Laurie Berry | 13 June, 2018, 02:00

Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox rose more than 4 percent, while Disney's stock dropped slightly more than 1 percent. However, AT&T has argued that making such a deal would be necessary to compete against other tech companies.

Elsewhere in the health space, shares of Express Scripts, which is about to be acquired by Cigna, soared 4.9 percent, to $83.05. Other deals on the line include the proposed T-Mobile and Sprint merger, CVS' purchase of Aetna and Cigna's acquisition of Express Scripts. Judge Richard Leon rejected arguments by Justice Department lawyers that the combined company would be too large and too powerful and that the $85 billion deal would harm competition and hurt consumers.

AT&T's politically charged takeover of Time Warner was approved by a U.S. judge on Tuesday in a blow to the Trump administration which had fought hard to have the deal scrapped. During the trial, AT&T made several efforts to introduce evidence about political interference into the case but was rebuffed by Judge Leon.

The judge made his remarks to a packed courtroom in an unusual session weeks after the trial ended. For instance, AT&T could charge other content providers (including Verizon, which owns HuffPost's parent company, Oath) artificially high prices to air the cable channels it acquired through Time Warner.

The companies have until June 21 to close the merger, per their previously set deadline. It could have an impact on future mergers and acquisitions between content providers and creators.

But some experts urged caution in thinking that the DOJ's top antitrust official Makan Delrahim would allow a Comcast-Fox deal to go through unopposed. AT&T's favorable ruling would seem to clear any regulatory hesitation.

Nadal resumes French QF; Halep-Muguruza, Stephens-Keys in SF
Top seed Nadal has an impressive record at the Roland Garros, winning 85 of his 87 matches played in the annual tournament so far. He is the only man to beat the world number one on clay in the last two years - in Madrid this spring and in Rome last year.

The nuances of this case are important, as the implications of this decision reach far beyond the individual businesses of AT&T and Time Warner to the vast media landscape as a whole.

"AT&T/DirecTV would hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for Time Warner's networks, and it would use its increased power to slow the industry's transition to new and exciting video distribution models that provide greater choice for consumers", the DOJ said in its complaint.

On Tuesday, Judge Leon ruled that the Trump administration could not block the deal. The decision means the telecom giant will now control highly-sought after programming - including Game of Thrones, the Harry Potter movie franchise, and CNN - as well as the infrastructure that delivers that content to tens of millions of living rooms televisions and smartphones.

The Department of Justice could decide to appeal the verdict.

President Donald Trump also once weighed in on the deal, commenting that an AT&T victory would put too much power "in the hands of too few" ― but many speculated that his aversion to the merger had more to do with his issues with CNN than anything else (Turner Broadcasting is CNN's parent company).

"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", AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said.

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