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

Justice Department appeals approval of AT&T-Time Warner deal

Justice Department appeals approval of AT&T-Time Warner deal

Rest assured, this battle is far from over.

A notice of appeal was filed yesterday with a federal appeals court one month after Judge Richard Leon rejected the government's efforts to block the $85 billion deal following a weeks-long antitrust trial. "While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the (Justice Department) has chosen to do so under these circumstances".

The US government has made a decision to appeal against a landmark court ruling that cleared the way for telecoms giant AT&T to buy Time Warner.

The Justice Department sued to stop the deal previous 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.

The merger could shape the way consumers stream TV and movies and how much they pay, and may usher in a new era of accelerating change and deal making in the media and telecom worlds.

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Although the law has been in effect for over a decade, a 2017 report from The Columbus Dispatch found that it is seldom enforced. Police said they routinely conduct such undercover operations. "There has to be a better objective for such resources".

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.

The Department of Justice on Thursday is appealing (via Bloomberg) the case on the grounds of antitrust.

Spokespeople for the DOJ declined to comment. It renamed the New York-based media company WarnerMedia. The merger, first announced in October 2016, was also opposed by President Donald Trump. For its part, AT&T said Thursday it's ready to defend Leon's ruling against the government's appeal. AT&T is a phone, cable and satellite behemoth that became the biggest pay-TV provider in the US with its acquisition of DirecTV in 2014. For instance, it will manage the Turner networks as part of a separate business unit, distinct from operations of AT&T Communications, which includes DirecTV and U-verse. This decision to appeal could have been made at the highest levels of the Trump administration.

Comcast started a bidding war with Disney for the entertainment assets of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in the days following the court ruling.

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