In a blow to the Trump administration and a Justice Department lawsuit, a federal judge approved AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner Tuesday, June 12, 2018:
- Judge Richard Leon, who presided over the six week antitrust trial, ruled in favor of AT&T.
- With this ruling, the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner can move forward without any restrictions, pending any appeals.
- The Justice Department can appeal, but this would likely put the ruling on hold, a move the judge wrote would be “manifestly unjust.”
- AT&T says it now aims to close the deal by June 20.
- The Justice Department’s move to try to block the deal was viewed as some as politically motived by the Trump administration.
- Trump has frequently sparred with Time Warner owned CNN, including calling it a “fake news” outlet.
- AT&T argued that the merger was necessary in an evolving media landscape with new competition from OTT and streaming providers.
- The government argued that the merger would lead to less competition and higher prices.
- Time Warner owners a large portfolio of media companies, including HBO, CNN and Warner Brothers.
- Time Warner’s former publishing arm Time Inc. was spun off in 2013 and subsequently sold to Meredith Corp. earlier this year and is not included in the AT&T deal.