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Trump DOJ appealing judge’s OK of AT&T-Time Warner merger

Trump DOJ appealing judge’s OK of AT&T-Time Warner merger

The Justice Department is appealing a judge's ruling approving the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, according to court documents filed Thursday.

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.

But in June Leon ruled that the government's objections "rested on improper notions" and warned against an appeal.

"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", said AT&T general counsel David McAtee. It said it was "surprised" by the government's decision and "ready to defend the court's decision". It's a very interesting and unexpected outcome but one to keep a watchful eye on going forward.

Federal lawyers contended that a combined AT&T and Time Warner would be too large and powerful.




In his almost 200-page opinion approving the merger, Judge Leon said that if the government asked him to stay the court order while the Justice Department appealed the case - in other words, to keep the merger on hold during the appeals process - he would refuse to do so. Still, the Justice Department apparently believes it has an adequate legal basis to show an error in Leon's ruling, Schaeffer said.

Speaking to reporters at the Sun Valley conference in Idaho, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said his company was expecting the Justice Department to appeal, but are prepared and "not worried" about it. It has been renamed WarnerMedia, and AT&T has rolled out a $15-a-month streaming service that heavily uses some of the content owned by WarnerMedia.

In addition, AT&T Communications will have no say in setting Turner's prices or other terms in contracts with companies that distribute its content.

Trump had previously denounced the AT&T deal, vowing that his administration would block it because it would concentrate corporate power unacceptably. Waiting in the wings are potential big-billions deals involving Verizon and CBS and T-Mobile and Sprint.


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