February 26, 2019
A federal appeals court Feb. 26 ruled against the Justice Department’s attempt to block AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which led to the formation of WarnerMedia.
The court found that a lower court judge’s decision last summer approving of the transaction did not violate antitrust guidelines.
“The judgment of the district court appealed from this cause is hereby affirmed,” the court wrote in its ruling.
The Justice Department had argued that the merger would enable AT&T, which also owns DirecTV, to leverage its stake in the satellite operator to force pay-TV competitors to pay more for content from Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, which includes CNN.
Some observers speculated the government’s attempt to block the deal revolved more around President Trump’s openly hostile approach to CNN, which he has labeled “fake news,” and, along with other media outlets not named Fox News, an “enemy of the people.”
Indeed, the DOJ’s legal challenges represented the first to a corporate vertical merger in four years.