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28 Feb

US Justice Department Not About To Appeal the AT&T-Time Warner Merger

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AT&T emerged victorious despite the drawn out attempts of the Trump administration to block its 85.4 billion dollars purchase of Time Warner, as the US Justice department said that they will not fight an appeal court ruling that approves the deal. The acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T has been watched very closely after it came under fire from president Donald Trump. Trump opposed the merger as he saw it helping the CNN unit of Time Warner, which was accused by the president of broadcasting fake news.

There was a three judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the Columbia district and they unanimously ruled in favor of the deal. They said that the case of the government that the merger will lead to increase in consumer prices was very “unpersuasive.” The decision of the panel ended a long fifteen-month effort by the Justice Department to block the merger.

This is the second major court victory for AT&T in this regard, and has set the stage for the second best wireless carrier in the country to integrate their WarnerMedia business with their new Xandr advertising unit. “We are grateful that the Court of Appeals considered our objections to the District Court opinion. The department has no plans to seek further review,” said Jeremy Edwards, who is the spokesman for the Justice Department.

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Makan Delrahim, who heads the antitrust division of the US Justice Department phoned Paul Cappuccio, Time Warner’s former General Counsel, and David McAtee, AT&T current General Counsel, to congratulate them on the victory. McAtee said the merger “has already yielded significant consumer benefits and will continue to do so for years to come.” This deal is being seen as a very important turning point in the media industry, which has been upended by businesses like Google and Netflix that offer content online without any need for cable subscriptions.

The merger was announced in October 2016 and was closed on June 14 2018 after the U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruling that the merger was legal under the US antitrust law. AT&T agreed to manage the Turner network till 28th of February, or until the conclusion of any appeal made by the US Justice Department. It was also agreed that AT&T will have no role in setting the prices of Turner to the distributors.

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