Department of Justice to appeal AT&T and Time Warner merger approval

Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision

Justice Department appeals AT&T-Time Warner merger | TheHill

AT&T said in a statement Thursday that judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia correctly decided the case.

The notice was just one paragraph, but the Justice Department will be expected to file a lengthier brief.

The appeal will be heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Justice Department sued to block the deal from going through in November of 2017, arguing that it would limit competition and raise prices.

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"I do not believe that the government has a likelihood of success on the merits of an appeal", he wrote in his ruling. The Justice Department still had 60 days, however, to appeal the decision approving the merger.

The DOJ appeal - and its potential success - could threaten AT&T's plans to deliver new video offerings such as AT&T WatchTV, a broadband-delivered video service with 30-plus channels, made available free to consumers under two new AT&T unlimited plans or for $15 monthly for other consumers. AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner on June 14 and formed WarnerMedia a day later. The DOJ did not, but left open the question of whether it would still appeal. The merger, first announced in October 2016, was also opposed by US President Donald Trump.

Media commentators suggested Trump was critical of the deal because of his antipathy for CNN, which has lambasted his presidency and is a regular target for his Twitter attacks.

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The Justice Department had pressured Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, which includes the cable news operation CNN, or other segments of the business, which both companies resisted.

AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told reporters on Thursday at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, that the company was not surprised about the Justice Department's decision to appeal. Since taking office, Trump has not commented on the deal itself, but in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News a year ago he showed amenability to a more aggressive stance on enforcing competition in the media world. That same statement hinted the USA government might appeal the ruling.

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