It’s on. The AT&T acquisition of Time Warner that is.
Federal judge Richard Leon gave the $85 billion deal the green light today – and without any requirements to sell off any parts of the company. He also warned the Department of Justice against leveling further antitrust cases against the pairing.
This development comes just a day after net neutrality was laid to rest. That’s pretty interesting timing, considering the deal gives AT&T control of such valuable content as Game of Thrones and the Harry Potter movies (and CNN too).
In the wake of the ruling, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, Policy and Consumer Rights, commented: “Allowing this merger to proceed raises serious concerns for consumers and the future of American media, and also sends a troubling signal to others that it’s open season for vertical mergers that could allow a company to raise the cost of essential products and services that its rivals need to compete, leading to higher costs for consumers and less innovation. I urge the Justice Department to take swift action to appeal this judgment to ensure that competition and consumers are protected.”
Digital rights group Fight for the Future tweeted “Approved merger will allow AT&T to charge internet users more money to use apps & services competing with TW content like CNN & HBO.”
Although clearly pro big business and anti regulation, President Trump has voiced his opposition to the AT&T-Time Warner combination. (Some reports indicate that stance had something to do with his dislike of CNN.) But the court today said the DoJ’s concerns about the deal were unfounded.
Meanwhile, publications like The Washington Post reported that the approval of the AT&T-Time Warner deal could set a precedent for more big consolidation in media and communications, among other industry sectors.
As for AT&T, its plans call for closing the deal by June 20.
But this November Politico piece reminds us that big media mergers are sometimes epic fails. Indeed, in 2001 Time Warner and America Online merged in a $111 billion deal. They went their separate ways a few years later.
Executive Editor, TMC
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