Economy

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

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

The Department of Justice said Thursday it would appeal a judge's decision last month clearing AT&T to acquire Time Warner for $85 billion.

What is at stake is whether AT&T can control Time Warner's lucrative assets CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros movie studio, in-demand sports programming, Game of Thrones and other popular television shows.

The court's decision to let AT&T and Time Warner go through this agreement was seen as a controversial move by many, so it'll be fascinating to see where the next steps of the appeal process take us. "While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances", AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said in a statement.

"Notice is hereby given that the United States of America, plaintiff in the above named case, hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the final judgment entered in this action on June 12, 2018", the DOJ said in its filing.

When the deal was first announced in October 2016, it was condemned by then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

The department's antitrust division filed a notice of appeal Thursday in Washington federal court. The Justice Department still had 60 days, however, to appeal the decision approving the merger.

This fuelled speculation that Trump could be retaliating due to critical coverage of his administration from news broadcaster CNN, which was part of Time Warner.

AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner is already underway, so DOJ may also seek an injunction ordering the deal to halt while the appeal is decided on. AT&T countered that the government's economic model was riddled with flaws and that the deal will enable AT&T and Time Warner to more effectively compete against companies such as Netflix Inc.

In addition, AT&T Communications will have no say in setting Turner's prices or other terms in contracts with companies that distribute its content. Just a day after Leon ruled, Comcast launched a $65 billion cash bid for the bulk of 21st Century Fox - topping Disney's all-stock $52.5 billion offer in December.



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