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Judge approves $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner deal

13 June 2018

Daenerys Targaryen, Superman and Harry Potter are all headed to AT&T after all. AT&T will now have a major foothold in the media industry.

AT&T has won a court ruling that will allow it to buy Time Warner Inc., Bloomberg and other media outlets reported today. It's already purchased satellite TV provider DirecTV for almost $49 billion.

For its part, AT&T was cheering the decision.

A ruling for AT&T and Time Warner would not only give the green light for the merger, but it could unleash a flurry of other deals. Delrahim, Trump's appointment as the antitrust chief at the Justice Department, is widely well-regarded.

The U.S. Justice Department is taking AT&T to court.

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A ruling in favor of AT&T would also ease the path for a merger.

Fans have been following the Disney/Fox deal closely, as a merger between the two companies would mean Marvel Studios would reacquire the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, both of which have been under Fox's control for decades. Comcast is expected to bid for some of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. assets as soon as tomorrow.

If AT&T is successful in its bid to buy Time Warner, it will nearly certainly find itself competing in a media market dominated by other large, integrated providers.

To see how this could happen, consider that, after the merger, AT&T would have the rights to all of HBO's output, CNN, live National Basketball Association and NCAA broadcasts, and many more desirable Time Warner properties. Ultimately, the government argued this would harm competition and innovation as well as raise prices for consumers. An appeal could force the date to be moved back again, perhaps with new demands placed on AT&T by impatient Time Warner shareholders.

The merger would create a media and telecommunications powerhouse, reshaping the landscape of those industries.

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For the past six weeks, AT&T has been in court over concern of its want to purchase Time Warner for a total of $85 billion. All of this competition among network providers and content creators has been great for consumers, but it's hurting AT&T's bottom line. Post-merger, AT&T rivals like Charter Communications and Cox, which now pay Time Warner for its channels, would suddenly also become AT&T's customers. He said the company needed to take a giant leap into the content business.

"We are grateful to the court for seeing it the way we did", Gindseberg said. Looming in the background of the deal has been Trump's long-running feud with Time Warner's CNN, which he has often derided as "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news". It is, he said then, "a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in hands of too few".

The ruling is a stinging defeat for the Justice Department.

Leaving the courtroom, Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice department's antitrust division, said that he would read the judge's opinion before making a decision on an appeal. Sessions did not comply with the request.

The $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner was approved Tuesday. It argued a combined AT&T-Time Warner could act like an internet company and use consumer data to offer more targeted advertising, and adapt more easily to compete with Netflix and Amazon.

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AT&T's stock fell as much as 2.5% and shares were up as much as 5.3% to more than $100 per share in after-hours trading Tuesday.

Judge approves $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner deal