Judge approves AT&T's $85B bid for Time Warner
The DOJ's first antitrust loss in court since 2004 👨‍⚖
Posted on June 13, 2018 12:00 AM.
CNBCSara Salinas
A federal judge said Tuesday that AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner is legal, clearing the path for a deal that gives the pay-TV provider ownership of cable channels such as HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros.
BloombergDavid McLaughlin, Andrew M Harris, Scott Moritz, and Erik Larson
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday rejected the Justice Department’s request for an order blocking the Time Warner acquisition, saying the government failed to make its case that the combination would lead to higher prices for pay-TV subscribers. The judge put no conditions on the deal. The decision also may make it easier for Verizon Communications Inc. to buy a content company and clear the regulatory path for deals Cigna Corp. and CVS Health Corp. have already announced.
The VergeColin Lecher
Now that the AT&T-Time Warner deal has been given a stamp of approval, it’s all but certain more deals are on the way. Those agreements were lining up even before today’s decision. Comcast reportedly planned to make a formal offer to buy 21st Century Fox the day after the ruling, if the judge in the AT&T case approved. The Walt Disney Company is also in the bidding for the company.
TechCrunchJordan Crook, Danny Crichton
There are only a handful of companies in this space, and they are some of the most powerful companies in the world. AT&T itself is the largest telecom provider in the world, and via DirecTV, it is also the largest multichannel video programming distributor in the U.S. Time Warner, meanwhile, owns channels like TBS and TNT, HBO and Warner Bros., not to mention the assets to live sports and news orgs such as the NBA, MLB, NCAA March Madness and PGA.
The VergeColin Lecher
The deadline for the deal is set for later this month, and as part of the judge’s overwhelming decision against the Justice Department, he wrote that he believed the government would be unlikely to succeed on an appeal, ... adding that granting a temporary stay of his ruling that scuttled the deal would be “unjust.”
Public KnowledgeJohn Bergmayer
This is a disappointing result, and we expect the government will appeal. In the meantime, not only may consumers be harmed directly by the anticompetitive harms that this merger will cause, such as higher bills and fewer choices of programming and provider, but also by the many other mergers it will encourage. Now, more than ever, we need reinvigorated regulatory oversight of the video marketplace, such as program access and program carriage rules, to ensure that smaller distributors and programmers, and consumers, aren’t harmed by an increasingly uncompetitive market. Additionally, the harms this deal will cause demonstrate why broadband users need strong, enforceable net neutrality rules on the books.

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